Full of gentle rhythm and repetition, this deceptively simple, layered poetic tale will charm its way into readers’ hearts...

THE LITTLE TREE

Using a tree and her seed as metaphor, Van draws on her immigrant background to demonstrate parental love for a child, even if it means letting go.

An anthropomorphic little tree is worried that the forest around her is no longer flourishing and wants a better life for her little seed. “Are trees this small everywhere?” she asks a brown bird and learns that there is a place “where trees grow a hundred feet tall” and “leaves are so thick, you can sit in the shade all day!” The little tree decides to toss her seed into the wind. Over the years, the little tree wonders what has become of her baby seed. “Is it strong and tall? Does it remember me at all?” When the brown bird returns, it tells her about a very special tree; perhaps that is her little seed? The little tree receives her answer when an elegant leaf twirls and shimmers right into her armlike branches. Adinolfi expertly layers mixed media comprising colored pencils, gouache, stamping, and more to create texture and movement on the static page. Add vibrant colors in saturated hues, and the story’s dreamlike environs come to life.  

Full of gentle rhythm and repetition, this deceptively simple, layered poetic tale will charm its way into readers’ hearts and begs to be read over and over again. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-939547-19-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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A simplistic take on the complex issue of Black identity in America.

WHO ARE YOUR PEOPLE?

A Black man teaches two Black children about their roots.

“Who are your people?” and “Where are you from?” These questions open the book as a man leads an unnamed boy and girl, presumably his children, into “Remembrance Park,” where they gaze up at Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, Stacey Abrams, and Martin Luther King Jr., who appear as cloudy apparitions in the sky. This imagery gives the misleading impression that Abrams, very much alive, is in heaven with the other figures, who are all deceased. Later on in the story, another potentially delusive illustration shows the main characters visiting a Mount Rushmore–like monument showcasing Kamala Harris alongside departed Black icons. After highlighting inspirational individuals who are not descended from people enslaved in the United States, the illustrations paradoxically depict enslaved Black Americans working in cotton fields. The portrayal of slavery is benevolent, and the images of civil rights marches and sit-ins likewise lack the necessary emotional depth. The text’s statement that “you are from the country where time moves with ease and where kindness is cherished” erases centuries of African American struggle in the face of racist violence and systemic exclusion. The book tries to instill pride in African Americans, who continue to struggle with a lack of shared identity or common experience; ultimately, it stumbles in its messaging and attempts to turn an extremely complicated, sometimes controversial topic into a warm and fuzzy picture book. All characters are Black.

A simplistic take on the complex issue of Black identity in America. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308285-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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