Extraordinary artwork inspires young people to use their hearts and hands.

READ REVIEW

WHAT WILL THESE HANDS MAKE?

A grandmother holds a baby’s hand and wonders, “What will these hands make?” Myriad possibilities follow.

What if those little hands made “a fiddle to play quick / a stack of wood for the night / a play to cheer / a lantern to guide the way back home?” Or how about “a bridge to cross a river / a boat to sail the sea / a house for swallows / a home for families?” These projects appear embedded within luxuriantly detailed scenes, made with McClure’s own steady hand and an X-Acto knife. Capitalized headers boldly ask “WILL THESE HANDS MAKE,” with possibilities unfurling in lyrical, lucid verse beneath. Awe-inspiring double-page spreads show a busy town from multiple, miraculous perspectives. Putty-colored paper serves as a soothing, neutral background for McClure’s inky-black illustrations, and it also allows all people to share the same skin tone. Selective pops of color (icy blue, buttercream yellow, brick red, cotton white) highlight fabric, flowers, cake, a mast. The matte pigments glow on the taupe paper, emphasizing just how good, hands-on work provides bright spots in communities. McClure encourages readers to trace their hands on two vacant ovals on the final pages, and it seems she’s asking also for a promise to do something with their own hands in the future. A conversational author’s note describes how she cuts paper to make artwork.

Extraordinary artwork inspires young people to use their hearts and hands. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2576-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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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