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

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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Positively refreshing.

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HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A thoughtfully layered text and powerful illustrations address this sensitive topic in a uniquely nurturing way.

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SULWE

With the help of a legend about Day and Night, a dark-skinned black child learns that she is beautiful inside and out.

Sulwe is “the color of midnight,” the darkest in her multihued family, and is teased in school. She tries everything to lighten her skin: an eraser, makeup, eating light foods, prayer. Her mother tells her she is beautiful and that her name, Sulwe, or “star,” refers to an inner brightness, but she can’t see it in herself. Then a shooting star comes to her window, sent by the night, and brings Sulwe out to tell her about Night and Day, two sisters who loved each other but were treated differently. When Night left after people called her names like “scary,” “bad,” and “ugly,” the people realized that they needed her. The stars added that “some light can only be seen in the dark.” After learning how Night and Day are both needed, Sulwe knows that she is “dark and beautiful, bright and strong.” Harrison’s glossy illustrations faithfully render the features of black people, allowing the beauty of different skin tones to shine, with deep purple tones in the darkness, reinforcing the story’s message. In an author’s note, Nyong’o shares her own past struggles with her complexion.

A thoughtfully layered text and powerful illustrations address this sensitive topic in a uniquely nurturing way. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2536-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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