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From the Malaika series , Vol. 4

A lovely story that intertwines a girl’s past and present into an honest reflection of her family.

A Black Canadian girl is curious about the father she never knew.

Malaika tells her mother and her grandmother about how she dreamed of a man with a basket of fruit. She soon learns that her father was a migrant worker who came to Canada before the rest of the family did but became sick and died here. The family travels to the farm where her father used to work. The farmworkers tell Malaika that he wanted to have a parade, “like back home,” and ask her to lead the Carnival parade in his honor. She puts up flyers asking others in their neighborhood to donate “pieces of cloth that remind you of home,” and together Malaika and Grandma create a gorgeous Carnival flag. Malaika appears to be part of a blended family, with a White-presenting French Canadian stepfather, Papa Fred, and stepsister, Adele; her mother and grandmother are Black. Though Malaika’s family’s country of origin isn’t mentioned, in an author’s note Hohn mentions her grandfather, a seasonal worker in the United States who died before returning home to Jamaica. The themes of immigrant communities, loving and supportive blended families, and finding ways to honor tradition and community shine brilliantly in this picture book. The illustrations, a combination of gouache and soft pastels, have a hazy look—ideal for bringing to life the child’s dreams of her father and showing how he’s still with her, no matter what. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A lovely story that intertwines a girl’s past and present into an honest reflection of her family. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781773068503

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2021

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From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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