Mel’s and Mo’s seemingly silly professions make for an amusing approach to teamwork.

MEL AND MO'S MARVELOUS BALANCING ACT

Identical twins prove the value of compromise.

Although Mel and Mo look alike, the identical twins have little in common. An escalation in contrast that begins with Mel’s preference for reading a book inside on a rainy day and Mo’s partiality to enjoying catching rays on a sunny day ultimately finds the twins disagreeing all the time and growing further apart. Clues in the patterned illustrations hint at the twins’ future—and separate—professions. Mel takes over the family umbrella business, while Mo runs away to join a circus, becoming a unicyclist with performing poodles on a high-wire act. Most picture books about twins would end here, celebrating their individuality, but Winstanley continues this story with another theme. After both twins find years of success, Theodora Tweedle’s Spectacular Raincoats and Roller Skates comes to town, and soon no one wants umbrellas or to watch a unicyclist. Mel fails to sell bigger umbrellas, and Mo’s increasingly elaborate tricks all end in falling. But one day when Mel visits Mo, who is struggling to stay balanced, the twins realize what the act needs—an umbrella! They discover they can combine their different strengths to make a strong team, and even invite Theodora to join them for a brand-new Roller-Skate Umbrella Circus. The twins, who are white, are not identified with gender-specific names, clothes, physical features, or pronouns.

Mel’s and Mo’s seemingly silly professions make for an amusing approach to teamwork. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77321-324-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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