A dreamy tribute to summer days—and sea life and the spaces in-between.

DOWN UNDER THE PIER

Four friends revel in the sea riches secluded down under the pier.

Racing from Ferris wheel to carousel, Skee-Ball to whack-a-mole, the children exhaust all of the greatest pleasures on offer “up on the pier.” But when the rides are done and their money’s gone, they go below the pier, where “Fun is free, and the world is ours.” Sumpter’s cotton-candy–colored illustrations, paint and pastels on brown paper, deftly capture the bright lights of the pier above and then, the deeper, dazzling beauty of the creatures hiding below. Beckerman’s lightly repetitive, sometimes rhyming text imbues the narrative with a gentle surge and pull (“They don’t know what we know— / To slip down the stairs when the tide is low”), breaking in small moments of wonder and discovery. The four friends—two of whom appear to be white, a brown-skinned boy with tightly coiled brown hair, and a brown-skinned girl with straight black hair—trawl the pier’s underbelly unaccompanied by adults. They are young enough to find wonder in all of its treasures and just old enough to be allowed to wander off alone. The book concludes with a simple, engaging illustrated guide to some of the sea creatures that can be found in the intertidal zone.

A dreamy tribute to summer days—and sea life and the spaces in-between. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-944903-86-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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