Hooray for these young friends who work together; this diverse crew will have readers looking forward to more.

HAVE NO FEAR!

From the The Fix-It Friends series

Seven-year-old Veronica teams up with friends to help solve classmate Maya’s problem, launching a series.

When Maya, a little girl with East Asian features in Dockray’s accompanying illustrations, can’t enjoy recess, the little white girl discovers the problem: Maya is deathly afraid of bugs, which ruins the best part of the day. Veronica tries a variety of strategies to coax her friend out, but each “solution” seems to add to the problem. Clowning around to elicit a laugh results in the dumping of a can full of charity pennies onto the floor. A fake spider at lunch has Maya screaming in alarm, which sets off a flurry in the cafeteria that ends with the principal on her backside when she slips on her soup. A real solution is found when Veronica observes her baby sister adjusting to her fear of the vacuum with gradual exposure. Her counselor mom helps come up with baby steps to try. Since 7- and 8-year-olds are often struck by fears and anxiety, this book fills its niche perfectly. Wise adults help the youngsters form reasonable solutions, but the kids are the ones who act on the solutions in a respectful way. The daring inclusion of the word “butt” suits Veronica’s trenchant voice and will summon both giggles and gasps.

Hooray for these young friends who work together; this diverse crew will have readers looking forward to more. (Fiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-08584-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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