Helpful and timely for children and their grown-ups.

SHARING A SMILE

Sophie and her grandfather figure out how to make wearing masks easier for themselves and their neighbors.

Sophie, a small girl, is inside her home with her grandfather watching the world change. Both have brown skin and dark, textured hair. He explains to her that “We all have to wear masks to keep everyone safe.” All her neighbors and the mail carrier are now wearing masks, just like the Hara family has always done outside, even before the pandemic. Most people are doing the things they always do—gardening, riding bikes, and playing—but she cannot see their smiles. Grandpa says that change is hard, and friends can help. This gives Sophie an idea. They both stay up late, sketching and sewing, and the following day, they surprise the neighbors with personalized gifts to make the change easier. As Sophie grows from worry and confusion to understanding and helping, readers learn to name feelings they may be experiencing themselves. The people who live on Sophie’s street are racially and ethnically diverse, and her neighbors are friendly. The bright illustrations use clean lines, white space, and swaths of texture to depict a close-knit community of personalities who care for one another and commit to the common good. Powerful in its simplicity, this story contains lots of social and emotional learning in a small package. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 64.2% of actual size.)

Helpful and timely for children and their grown-ups. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9785-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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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Positively refreshing.

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HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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