Unsparingly compassionate; an excellent addition to the collection of books about separation and divorce.

WEEKEND DAD

A child's narration captures the confusion and sorrow that children of separated and divorced parents can feel.

Dad and mom have separated or perhaps even divorced, resulting in some life-altering changes. The redheaded child narrator has dad on the mind all week after Dad moves out on Monday. But on Friday night, it is time to say goodbye to Mom and visit Dad’s new apartment: “My dad says I have two homes now.” Accustomed to a home once shared with both parents (all three family members have pale skin), the child feels scared on the first night in dad’s apartment and wanders into his room to watch him sleep, wondering if even grown-ups get scared too. The story captures little moments that have big meaning—the tender kiss Mom gives the child when leaving to stay with Dad for the first time; Dad’s wide eyes as he picks up his kid at what used to be his own home; the child leaving a favorite stuffed animal with Dad so that he won’t feel alone; and a poignant letter the father leaves with the child, an abridged version of one the author’s own father once wrote to her. With characteristically stylized, offbeat visuals, Viva’s illustrations capture the abundant emotional subtext with simple but effective lines.

(This book releases first as a digital edition, with print release currently scheduled for Aug. 4, 2020.)

Unsparingly compassionate; an excellent addition to the collection of books about separation and divorce. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-108-5

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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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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