HOLES IN THE SKY

Trisha looks for signs from her grandmother in the sky but finds them closer than expected.

Trisha’s comfortably zaftig Russian grandmother tells her that stars are really “holes in the sky,” with the light of heaven gleaming through them. She says that she will be there soon but will watch over them, and she will send a sign to let them know. After Babushka dies, Trisha’s all-white family moves to the diverse city of Oakland, California, and Trisha becomes best friends with a black boy named Stewart. Stewart brings Trisha home to meet his grandmother Eula, a woman who cooks and gardens and whose shape echoes Babushka’s. Miss Eula mentions that Verna Bacci’s garden used to be the most beautiful on the block, before she lost her son in a terrible accident. The three of them decide to do something nice for Miss Verna, and the whole neighborhood pitches in. While Trisha has been searching the sky every night for a sign from Babushka, Miss Verna gets a sign from her son that they all can see. In the end, Miss Eula dabs vanilla behind Trisha’s ears just like Babushka used to, and Trisha realizes that her sign has been right in front of her. Polacco’s signature illustration style in sketched pencil and color emphasizes the relationships among people, just as the text celebrates the power of connection and the miracle of love in unexpected places.

Sweet and comforting. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3948-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking.

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EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS

A young Chinese American girl sees more than the shape of her eyes.

In this circular tale, the unnamed narrator observes that some peers have “eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,” but her eyes are different. She “has eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Author Ho’s lyrical narrative goes on to reveal how the girl’s eyes are like those of other women and girls in her family, expounding on how each pair of eyes looks and what they convey. Mama’s “eyes sparkl[e] like starlight,” telling the narrator, “I’m a miracle. / In those moments when she’s all mine.” Mama’s eyes, the girl observes, take after Amah’s. While she notes that her grandmother’s eyes “don’t work like they used to,” they are able to see “all the way into my heart” and tell her stories. Here, illustrator Ho’s spreads bloom with references to Chinese stories and landscapes. Amah’s eyes are like those of the narrator’s little sister. Mei-Mei’s eyes are filled with hope and with admiration for her sister. Illustrator Ho’s textured cartoons and clever use of light and shadow exude warmth and whimsy that match the evocative text. When the narrator comes to describe her own eyes and acknowledges the power they hold, she is posed against swirling patterns, figures, and swaths of breathtaking landscapes from Chinese culture. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80.5% of actual size.)

This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291562-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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