A cute reflection of girl-centric playtime, role play, and friendship.

DRESS LIKE A GIRL

Fashion-conscious young girls get practical tips on finding suitable outfits for every occasion—and profession.

An ethnically diverse group of girls arrives at the home of their friend, whose Asian father and black mother look on. In the rhyming text readers learn that the rules about what it means to dress like a girl are to be heeded “in your own way.” The girls proceed to play dress-up and make-believe with costumes of astronauts, doctors, conductors, fire fighters, police officers, scuba divers, arctic explorers, athletes, and construction workers. The ink-and-watercolor illustrations render lively children against spare backgrounds of rooms throughout the house that adapt to the girls’ imaginations. Readers are told to “Make your own rules / in this big wide world. // Set your sights high / and… // …DRESS LIKE A GIRL!” After many play scenes, they demonstrate their costumes and personalities for the hostess’s family, holding signs that say “Whoooo runs the world? GIRLS” and “My own hero” and “Get it, GIRL!” Then they fall asleep in their superhero-, dinosaur-, and outer-space–themed sleeping bags, with costume equipment scattered around on the floor. More a promotion of girl power than a challenge to gender—it does still validate the concept of “dressing like a girl”—this book encourages girls to broaden their horizons beyond princesses and fairies.

A cute reflection of girl-centric playtime, role play, and friendship. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-279892-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain.

THE SOUR CHERRY TREE

With ample emotional subtext, a young girl recalls everyday details about her beloved grandfather the day after his death.

The child bites her mother’s toe to wake her up, wishing that she could have done the same for her baba bozorg, her beloved grandfather, who had forgotten to wake up the day before. She kisses a pancake that reminds her of her grandfather’s face. Her mother, who had been admonishing her for playing with her food, laughs and kisses the pancake’s forehead. Returning to Baba Bozorg’s home, the child sees minute remnants of her grandfather: a crumpled-up tissue, smudgy eyeglasses, and mint wrappers in his coat pockets. From these artifacts the narrator transitions to less tangible, but no less vivid, memories of playing together and looks of love that transcend language barriers. Deeply evocative, Hrab’s narrative captures a child’s understanding of loss with gentle subtlety, and gives space for processing those feelings. Kazemi’s chalk pastel art pairs perfectly with the text and title: Pink cherry hues, smoky grays, and hints of green plants appear throughout the book, concluding in an explosion of vivid green that brings a sense of renewal, joy, and remembrance to the heartfelt ending. Though the story is universally relevant, cultural cues and nods to Iranian culture will resonate strongly with readers of Iranian/Persian heritage. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-414-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A spunky and sincere picture book about body positivity.

BEAUTIFULLY ME

Zubi Chowdhury is thrilled about her first day of school.

She’s got a special outfit picked out: a pink shirt paired with overalls tailored in Bangladesh. She’s got her hair in a special style: two bouncy, perfect pigtails. And she’s got the perfect accessories: butterfly clips and bangles. Zubi feels gorgeous—but the rest of her Bangladeshi Muslim family doesn’t. Her mother bemoans her large stomach, her older sister, Naya, is on a diet in preparation for the school dance, and her father frets about how much weight he’s recently gained. Then, at school, Zubi’s classmate Kennedy calls their classmate Alix fat. Zubi—who illustrations reveal is fat—has always loved her body, but after this onslaught of negative messaging at home and in the schoolyard, she wonders if she’s deluding herself. At dinner, she decides to go on a diet. When she announces this to her family, her parents, siblings, and grandmother launch into a round of self-reflection that culminates in a frank conversation about what it really means to be beautiful. This warmly illustrated picture book features characters with varying body types, skin colors, and hair textures. Zubi’s slow descent from self-confidence to self-doubt realistically brings to light the subtle messages children get from friends and family about which bodies are valued and which are not. Zubi’s conversation with her family is a model for parents and children alike. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A spunky and sincere picture book about body positivity. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8587-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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