How glorious: a story about a black child experiencing the outdoors that is beautiful in every way.

SOUTHWEST SUNRISE

A young black child reluctantly moves from New York City to New Mexico.

The young protagonist is not excited about leaving New York City and “the feeling of wow / craning my neck to study / the tops of skyscrapers” to move to New Mexico, where everything will be “browns and tans / …the only colors / deserts are good for” (a questionable choice of words). But on this first morning in New Mexico, the grumpy kid is gifted with a series of nature-based surprises. First, a mountain unnoticed the night before is waiting outside the “barless window.” Here and throughout the book, Minor’s lovely art captures the beauty of the Southwestern United States in gouache watercolors—in this case presenting a picturesque scene perfectly captured in a window frame surrounded by white space that makes the view all the more arresting. With the help of a field guide, the young protagonist sets off on a nature walk that reveals colorful flowers, birds, lizards, vistas, and more, all described with Grimes’ signature poetic lyricism and vividly depicted in Minor’s gorgeous illustrations. By the end of the walk, the intrepid budding naturalist is ready to give this beautiful new home a try.

How glorious: a story about a black child experiencing the outdoors that is beautiful in every way. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0082-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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