A serviceable volume in a hit-or-miss series.

AFRICAN

From the LyricPop series

Jamaican artist Moss illustrates the lyrics of Tosh’s 1977 reggae hit “African.”

Tosh’s lyrics open the door to black people everywhere, regardless of nationality or geography, to consider themselves African. The first spread shows a world map with Africa at its center and arrows from the continent throughout the world, a vague representation of the diaspora. The refrain, “Don’t care where you come from, / as long as you’re a black man, / you’re an African,” is interspersed with verses that list cities and countries of residence as far flung as Russia and Taiwan, naming different complexions and denominations as inconsequential as well. The joyful illustrations depict young and older black people of various colors, with many different hairstyles and wearing an array of clothing styles, playing, riding, dancing, and walking. The settings faithfully convey the scenery of the locales named. However, the depiction of African wildlife instead of people on several spreads of the refrain, juxtaposed with the people and buildings in other illustrations, risks obscuring the realities of modern, urban Africa. And although modern readers may balk at the gendered chorus, the dynamic art and text work together to form a loving ode to belonging for black people of the diaspora. This is one of four in the new LyricPop series. It and Christine McVie’s Don’t Stop, illustrated by Nusha Ashjaee, which depicts a pink bunny playing with woodland friends as winter melts into spring, are two that work in this series of lyrics-turned–picture book. Skip Paul Hoppe’s interpretation of Mike Love and Brian Wilson’s “Good Vibrations,” in which a kid and a dog surf in unlikely circumstances, and Margaret McCartney’s version of Dee Snider’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” depicting three toddlers resisting naptime. A QR code on the back opens up a Spotify playlist with all the series songs.

A serviceable volume in a hit-or-miss series. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61775-799-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Akashic

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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