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An important, stirring tale—just be sure to read the backmatter.

Co-author and former child refugee Babakar remembers a special joy from her harrowing journey.

Young Mevan adores “lush and hilly” Kurdistan, where her family has lived for generations. Surrounded by loving relatives and community members, the budding poet feels “ten feet tall.” That all changes when Iraqi soldiers push her family out of their home. Depicting the soldiers with uniforms but no guns, the art works with the text to soften the desperation of the situation without glossing over it—a tricky yet essential needle to thread. As Mevan and her parents make an arduous voyage from Kurdistan to Turkey to Azerbaijan to Russia, she feels increasingly small. The art’s muted, earthy palette adeptly captures their alienation while also highlighting the nature (or lack thereof) in their surroundings. After two years in Russia, the family goes to the “green and bright” Netherlands, where a kind handyman named Egbert gives Mevan a bicycle. A wordless spread shows Mevan riding playfully around the neighborhood while her parents and Egbert look on—enjoying a carefree experience at last. Eventually the family finds a permanent home in another country, but they aren’t able to say goodbye to Egbert. Mevan never forgets his kindness, but it’s a bittersweet ending. Relegated to the backmatter is an astonishing revelation: a photo of Babakar and Egbert, along with an epilogue and author’s note stating that they reunited years later.

An important, stirring tale—just be sure to read the backmatter. (Picture-book memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063056992

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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A sweet and endearing feathered migration.

A relationship between a Latina grandmother and her mixed-race granddaughter serves as the frame to depict the ruby-throated hummingbird migration pattern.

In Granny’s lap, a girl is encouraged to “keep still” as the intergenerational pair awaits the ruby-throated hummingbirds with bowls of water in their hands. But like the granddaughter, the tz’unun—“the word for hummingbird in several [Latin American] languages”—must soon fly north. Over the next several double-page spreads, readers follow the ruby-throated hummingbird’s migration pattern from Central America and Mexico through the United States all the way to Canada. Davies metaphorically reunites the granddaughter and grandmother when “a visitor from Granny’s garden” crosses paths with the girl in New York City. Ray provides delicately hashed lines in the illustrations that bring the hummingbirds’ erratic flight pattern to life as they travel north. The watercolor palette is injected with vibrancy by the addition of gold ink, mirroring the hummingbirds’ flashing feathers in the slants of light. The story is supplemented by notes on different pages with facts about the birds such as their nest size, diet, and flight schedule. In addition, a note about ruby-throated hummingbirds supplies readers with detailed information on how ornithologists study and keep track of these birds.

A sweet and endearing feathered migration. (bibliography, index) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0538-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40.

From two Nobel Peace Prize winners, an invitation to look past sadness and loneliness to the joy that surrounds us.

Bobbing in the wake of 2016’s heavyweight Book of Joy (2016), this brief but buoyant address to young readers offers an earnest insight: “If you just focus on the thing that is making / you sad, then the sadness is all you see. / But if you look around, you will / see that joy is everywhere.” López expands the simply delivered proposal in fresh and lyrical ways—beginning with paired scenes of the authors as solitary children growing up in very different circumstances on (as they put it) “opposite sides of the world,” then meeting as young friends bonded by streams of rainbow bunting and going on to share their exuberantly hued joy with a group of dancers diverse in terms of age, race, culture, and locale while urging readers to do the same. Though on the whole this comes off as a bit bland (the banter and hilarity that characterized the authors’ recorded interchanges are absent here) and their advice just to look away from the sad things may seem facile in view of what too many children are inescapably faced with, still, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the world more qualified to deliver such a message than these two. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-48423-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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