A deeply nostalgic look at once-upon-a-time Midwest farm life.

PRAIRIE DAYS

Newbery Medalist MacLachlan tells the story of a pastoral childhood on a prairie farm.

The unnamed narrator is depicted as a pale child with fair hair living in a small prairie town in, perhaps, the 1940s. In a nostalgic, retrospective voice, the protagonist recalls the wildlife and flowers near the farmhouse; the vast landscapes; swimming in the farm pond; and the sights, smells, and sounds of happy summers spent primarily outdoors. The narrator remembers trips to small towns, the local filling station, the granary by the railroad, and the nearby shops. Characters all appear to be white, and it is strictly from this perspective that the story is told; it comes complete with cowboys who say, “Hello, little lady,” and nearby towns with names like Rattlesnake and Spotted Horse. The story is insular, told as it is from this one child’s point of view, yet sprawling in its visual depictions of the “sky so big” (the book’s wide, horizontal orientation does its best to capture this) and the point “where the prairie met the mountains.” Archer’s vivid, textured mixed-media illustrations include tissue papers and homemade stamps. They are richly colored and detailed; these are spreads to linger over. Readers may see something new with each look.

A deeply nostalgic look at once-upon-a-time Midwest farm life. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4191-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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