Color-conscious—but that’s where it stops.

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HONEYSMOKE

A STORY OF FINDING YOUR COLOR

A biracial girl tries to describe herself in terms of color.

Simone, whose mother is depicted as black and whose father is depicted as white in the digital illustrations with manga-style influences, asks her parents, “Am I black or white?” Both seem a bit dismissive. Mama says, “Boo…a color is just a word.” Daddy tells her, “you’re a little bit of both.” She then asks a diverse group of friends, “What color am I?” They respond in ways that individually align her with them. A black girl says she’s black. A white boy says she’s white. A girl of color whose race isn’t named says “You could be one or the other.” Simone then searches for colors. She’s not black like the tire swing that “stains her hands and clothes” (a line that may give readers pause). Nor is she white like the classroom glue that drips on her skin. But truly, no one is those colors, and the text shifts to present Simone reflecting that her black mother has skin that “reminds her of the honey from the beehives at Grandma’s house.” Unfortunately, she likens her father’s skin color to “the smoke that billows from Grandpa’s train,” which is quite a stretch, and even Moises doesn’t seem to try to make the smoke resemble Daddy’s pinkish skin tone. Simone combines these words to proudly call herself “honeysmoke,” and readers are invited to create their own color words, too. There is a need for books in which biracial children explore their mixed identities, but this simplistic tale goes only skin deep.

Color-conscious—but that’s where it stops. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-11582-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their...

RUBY FINDS A WORRY

Ruby is an adventurous and happy child until the day she discovers a Worry.

Ruby barely sees the Worry—depicted as a blob of yellow with a frowny unibrow—at first, but as it hovers, the more she notices it and the larger it grows. The longer Ruby is affected by this Worry, the fewer colors appear on the page. Though she tries not to pay attention to the Worry, which no one else can see, ignoring it prevents her from enjoying the things that she once loved. Her constant anxiety about the Worry causes the bright yellow blob to crowd Ruby’s everyday life, which by this point is nearly all washes of gray and white. But at the playground, Ruby sees a boy sitting on a bench with a growing sky-blue Worry of his own. When she invites the boy to talk, his Worry begins to shrink—and when Ruby talks about her own Worry, it also grows smaller. By the book’s conclusion, Ruby learns to control her Worry by talking about what worries her, a priceless lesson for any child—or adult—conveyed in a beautifully child-friendly manner. Ruby presents black, with hair in cornrows and two big afro-puff pigtails, while the boy has pale skin and spiky black hair.

A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their feelings . (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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An unfortunately simplistic delivery of a well-intentioned message.

I'LL WALK WITH YOU

Drawing on lyrics from her Mormon children’s hymn of the same title, Pearson explores diversity and acceptance in a more secular context.

Addressing people of varying ages, races, origins, and abilities in forced rhymes that omit the original version’s references to Jesus, various speakers describe how they—unlike “some people”—will “show [their] love for” their fellow humans. “If you don’t talk as most people do / some people talk and laugh at you,” a child tells a tongue-tied classmate. “But I won’t! / I won’t! / I’ll talk with you / and giggle too. / That’s how I’ll show my love for you.” Unfortunately, many speakers’ actions feel vague and rather patronizing even as they aim to include and reassure. “I know you bring such interesting things,” a wheelchair user says, welcoming a family “born far, far away” who arrives at the airport; the adults wear Islamic clothing. As pink- and brown-skinned worshipers join a solitary brown-skinned person who somehow “[doesn’t] pray as some people pray” on a church pew, a smiling, pink-skinned worshiper’s declaration that “we’re all, I see, one family” raises echoes of the problematic assertion, “I don’t see color.” The speakers’ exclamations of “But I won’t!” after noting others’ prejudiced behavior reads more as self-congratulation than promise of inclusion. Sanders’ geometric, doll-like human figures are cheery but stiff, and the text’s bold, uppercase typeface switches jarringly to cursive for the refrain, “That’s how I’ll show my love for you.” Characters’ complexions include paper-white, yellow, pink, and brown.

An unfortunately simplistic delivery of a well-intentioned message. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4236-5395-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Gibbs Smith

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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