Hohn contrasts Caribbean and Canadian cultures tenderly, with deep understanding of both, and she and Luxbacher have created...

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MALAIKA’S WINTER CARNIVAL

Malaika is delighted to see her mother again, but after a brief stay in their Caribbean island home, she’s taking Malaika to her new home in Canada, along with her new, white French-Canadian husband, Mr. Frédéric, and his daughter, Adèle.

Though her new family is pleasant and welcoming, Malaika’s annoyed with the cold, the layers of puffy clothes she has to wear, the new language she has to learn, and—the last straw—when the family goes to a carnival, there are no bright, beautiful costumes as at Carnival at home (the subject of Malaika’s Costume, 2016). Malaika kicks over Adèle’s snow castle out of frustration. The next day, Malaika and her grandmother have a video chat, which lifts her spirts and reminds her of friends and family, and she decides to give this new home a chance. She starts with an apology to Adèle, who embraces her new sister and teachers her to catch the newly falling snowflakes on her tongue. As in the previous book, Hohn uses Malaika’s lovely patois to tell the story, which teaches Caribbean and French terms as well as focusing on the primary story of coping with a new country and a blended family. Luxbacher’s mixed-media collages are wonderful, vibrant, and expressive, and both the cover and final pages tell the happy ending without a word.

Hohn contrasts Caribbean and Canadian cultures tenderly, with deep understanding of both, and she and Luxbacher have created a sweet, immersive and loving book that will benefit both young new arrivals to a country and those just meeting them. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-920-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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