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EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE by Pauline David-Sax Kirkus Star


A Story of Books and Belonging

by Pauline David-Sax ; illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow

Pub Date: July 19th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-593-37882-3
Publisher: Doubleday

A bookish child who doesn’t feel that they belong decides to take a risk.

To Nicky, belonging seems so simple in Ms. Gillam’s library at school. How could recess and its rowdy, closed-off groups ever compare to the quiet delight of reshelving books? “Everything has its place in a library. / The books. Ms. Gillam. Me.” Then Ms. Gillam announces she will be away at a conference, and Nicky dreads facing a whole week without her haven. Nicky seeks solace in the routine of their mother’s cafe and in their favorite customer, Maggie, who rides a motorcycle and loans Nicky books. But when Maggie comes to the restaurant one day with a whole fleet of motorcyclists—all of them different, all of them together—Nicky is floored by the realization that being different doesn’t have to mean being alone. The poetic text refreshingly resists “correcting” its misfit protagonist and opts instead to validate them. Nicky doesn’t have to shed their introversion or put aside books to make friends but instead invites a peer to dive into books with them. Pinkney Barlow’s illustrations offer a rich, journalesque storytelling counterpart, as the collage and ink-pen styles expertly contrast Nicky’s introspection with the world around them, gifting readers with an almost fantastical visual and emotional landscape. Almost the entire cast is Black and brown, though Barlow opts for unfilled line drawings rather than painted skin tones. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

For all those who are never found without a book at recess.

(Picture book. 4-7)