For lovers of Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López’s The Day You Begin (2018), a sweet lesson on how to glow from the inside...

WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE

In this new book from the creative duo behind Wherever You Go (2015), a child warily bids adieu to a beloved former home and summons the courage to embrace the new one.

A family says farewell to neighbors as they pack the last of their belongings into a car and trailer. In a mostly empty room, a pigtailed child holds a photo album. The family drives away from what was their home, and, visibly nostalgic, the child opens the photo album. Miller’s text, replete with musical pulses, evokes the emotional and trying journey: “Because some days are full of things you’d rather not do. // Like plunging into a pool all by yourself, hoping you’ll swim and not sink. / Or standing alone, in front of a crowd, searching for one friendly face.” The drive is a journey through busy city traffic then a somber, rainy forested range that culminates in hilly, coastal views. With mixed traditional media, Wheeler revels in color—dramatic, muted hues and warm glowing pages mirror the protagonist’s feelings. Graceful, sinuous artwork depicting various panoramas adorns mostly double-page spreads, encouraging readers to observe how the illustrations echo the verses. One dazzling spread cleverly uses stars, moon, and twilight to convey the protagonist’s brightness, bravery, and courage. Both child and family are racially ambiguous, with light skin and straight, dark hair.

For lovers of Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López’s The Day You Begin (2018), a sweet lesson on how to glow from the inside out. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-39252-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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