This interactive guide to activism and its endearing protagonist both burst with energy.

RISE UP AND WRITE IT

WITH REAL MAIL, POSTERS, AND MORE!

Farah Patel is full of questions.

One day, she notices that her urban neighborhood is missing butterflies. When she asks why, Farah’s mother tells her that it’s because their community lacks greenery. When Farah and her mother pass an empty lot with a sign in front of it asking citizens to contact Mayor Khan with their ideas for it, Farah lands on the perfect plan: She and her neighbors could turn it into a community garden! Not only would this attract butterflies, it would also provide families with a local source of fresh fruits and vegetables. Farah writes to the mayor, but the mayor writes back saying that the plan is to turn the space into a parking lot. Determined to change this, Farah organizes her friends and neighbors to work together to advocate for a garden. This cheerfully illustrated picture book is the perfect beginner text for young activists, providing examples of kid-friendly actions, including writing letters to politicians, testifying at public meetings, and organizing rallies. The book contains cleverly designed pages shaped like envelopes that contain removable samples of letters, petitions, and protest signs that kids can use as templates for their own community-based action. The book’s language is both clear and empowering—never preachy—and the plot moves quickly. Farah is South Asian, and in Syed’s art, her neighborhood reflects the ideal of American diversity.

This interactive guide to activism and its endearing protagonist both burst with energy. (Picture book/novelty. 3-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-302959-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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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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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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