A feel-good picture book about diversity, family relationships, and self-love.

HAIR TWINS

In this book, an unnamed Sikh girl describes the way she and her father take care of their hair.

In accordance with Sikh tradition, the narrator and her father both wear their dark hair long. The narrator describes how her father helps her comb her hair, using coconut oil to detangle it. Some days, she says, he plaits her hair into two long braids just like her grandmother’s. Other days, he twists it into a bun that matches his own, and the two become the titular “hair twins.” When the protagonist comes home from school, she lets her hair out and dances with her father, enjoying her long, free tresses. Afterward, the father ties the girl’s hair into one long braid while he ties a turban on his head. The story ends with the girl and her father going to the park to meet the girl’s friends and their families, all of whom have their own varied hairstyles and family structures—a conclusion that reinforces the book’s celebration of all types of hair, bodies, and people. Hatam’s illustrations are both child friendly and clever, incorporating symbolism from the text into fanciful pictures that burst with pride and joy. The lyrical text is both accessible and poetic, and the narratorial voice has a sincerity and enthusiasm that make it a delight to read. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 42.6 % of actual size.)

A feel-good picture book about diversity, family relationships, and self-love. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49530-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Fans of this popular series will find this a rewarding addition to family Easter celebrations.

GOD GAVE US EASTER

From the God Gave Us You series

Bergren and Bryant attempt to explain Easter to young children in a gentle, nonthreatening manner, with partial success.

When Little Cub questions her father about Easter, Papa Bear explains the religious significance of the holiday in various symbolic ways to his cub. He uses familiar things from their world, such as an egg and a fallen tree, to draw parallels with aspects of the Christian story. Papa Bear discusses his close relationships with Jesus and God, encouraging Little Cub to communicate with God on her own. The theme focuses on the renewal of life and the positive aspects of loving God and Jesus. Easter is presented as a celebration of eternal life, but the story skirts the issue of the crucifixion entirely. Some adults will find this an inadequate or even dishonest approach to the Easter story, but others will appreciate the calm and soothing text as a way to begin to understand a difficult subject. Bryant’s charming watercolor illustrations of the polar bear family, their cozy home and snowy forest scenes add to the overall mellow effect.

Fans of this popular series will find this a rewarding addition to family Easter celebrations. (Religion/picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-73072-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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Gorgeous, shimmering, heartfelt.

I SANG YOU DOWN FROM THE STARS

Anticipation, pregnancy, and the birth of a baby are celebrated in this story from Spillett-Sumner (Inniniwak) and Caldecott medalist Goade (Tlingit).

When a baby chooses its mother, special gatherings of family and community are held to prepare for the child’s arrival. Sacred items are collected and placed in a medicine bundle to be given to the baby at birth. These items will keep the growing child’s connection to their identity strong. Spillett-Sumner’s lyrical text begins as an Indigenous mother plans the journey with her unborn child. “Before I held you in my arms, I sang you down from the stars.” When she finds a white eagle plume, it becomes “the first gift in a bundle that will be yours.” The young mother finds more items for her child’s bundle: cedar, sage, a “star blanket,” and a special river stone “so that you always remember that you belong to this place.” The baby arrives in the spring, “with the waters that come when the ice breaks and the rivers flow again.” Goade uses a white “swoosh” of stars throughout the illustrations to intertwine traditional origin stories with a family’s experience of “love and joy” upon the arrival of the new baby, in scenes that pulse with both emotions. Author and illustrator each contribute a note describing how they drew upon their respective cultural traditions to inform their work, which will open the book up to a wide range of readers.

Gorgeous, shimmering, heartfelt. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49316-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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