Despite its uplifting message, this effort doesn’t quite get off the ground.

READ REVIEW

THE KITE OF DREAMS

Children all over the world play with real and imaginary kites, buoying their hope and resilience.

In a series of international vignettes, López Ávila and Merlán describe the titular Kite of Dreams—a metaphorical toy that “gather[s] the hopes and dreams of children” and helps them “dream of a better world.” Full-bleed watercolor-and-pencil illustrations offer glimpses from the lives of 15 kids in places such as Bolivia, Haiti, Ukraine, and the Philippines. Each child has their own wishes, and each uses literal or make-believe kites to weather challenging circumstances. In one scene, a Mexican girl named Lis “finds a piece of cloth” that triggers a “daydream of flowers, butterflies, and forests.” Using her sewing skills, she crafts a kite for herself and her brother, who then “play, without being bothered by the shadow of violence.” In an unnamed Chinese village, as Xia makes the treacherous journey to school, she “pretends a kite is carrying her up into the air” to distract her from the scary parts of the trek. The Kite of Dreams represents children’s capacity for “hope,” “love,” and “joy,” no matter what hardships they face; unfortunately, the overworked symbolism makes for a somewhat threadbare arc. Though the author writes most of the vignettes as open-ended slices of life that avoid feel-good conclusions, the book’s ending may strike readers as disappointingly sentimental.

Despite its uplifting message, this effort doesn’t quite get off the ground. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-84-16733-68-2

Page Count: 27

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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Cool beans indeed.

THE COOL BEAN

A supposed “has-bean” shows that coolness has more to do with deeds than demeanor.

Offering further moral instruction in this leguminous cousin to The Bad Seed (2017) and The Good Egg (2019), Oswald portrays three beans—each a different species but all sporting boss shades, fly threads, and that requisite air of nonchalance—bringing the cool to streets, hallways, playgrounds, and Leguma Beach. Meanwhile, a fourth (a scraggly-haired chickpea), whose efforts to echo the look and the ’tude have fallen flat, takes on the role of nerdy narrator to recall “olden days” when they all hung out in the same pod. Still, despite rolling separate ways (nobody’s fault: “That’s just how it is sometimes. You spend less time together, even though you’re not totally sure why”), when the uncool bean drops a lunch tray, skins a kid knee on the playground, or just needs a hint in class, one of the others is always on the scene toot suite. No biggie. And passing those casual acts of kindness forward? “Now that’s cool.” John’s good-hearted text makes some hay with the bean puns while Oswald’s pipe-stemmed limbs, googly eyes, and accessories give these anthropomorphic legumes lots of personality. As a fava to young audiences, pair with Jamie Michalak and Frank Kolar’s Frank and Bean (2019) for a musical combination.

Cool beans indeed. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-295452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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