As the future of Katie and Jennifer's friendship remains unknown, this is for readers who are confronting loss or shifts in...

FLABBERSMASHED ABOUT YOU

The third Katie Honors entry (Sometimes I’m Bombaloo, 2002; Jibberwillies at Night, 2008) again traverses critical emotional territory, though the visual and textual quality don’t match the topic’s importance.

The plot is simple: Katie’s best friend plays with someone else at recess; Katie feels furious and wounded until she makes a new chum herself. Although Katie boasts about her own social dabbling (“I like to play with everybody, and they all like to play with me, too. I go on lots of playdates”), and although Jennifer never implies that their friendship’s over, powerlessness and loss of routine do sting. Unfortunately, the artwork is too stilted and static for the roiling emotions and theme about change. Composition varies, but despite interesting white space between figures and background, the vibe is stiff. Even when Katie imagines screaming, Heo’s geometrical shapes look balanced and regular. When Katie does yell, her eye becomes a spiral, and the visuals finally match the mood. Text changes type, color and size, in a way that feels not playful but instructional and provides volume levels. Description of Katie’s old and new pals waxes sentimentally adult: Jennifer’s “smile is as bright as the morning sun in your eyes,” Arabella’s “smile [i]s gentle like the afternoon sun between the leaves.”

As the future of Katie and Jennifer's friendship remains unknown, this is for readers who are confronting loss or shifts in friendship. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-61345-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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An unfortunately simplistic delivery of a well-intentioned message.

I'LL WALK WITH YOU

Drawing on lyrics from her Mormon children’s hymn of the same title, Pearson explores diversity and acceptance in a more secular context.

Addressing people of varying ages, races, origins, and abilities in forced rhymes that omit the original version’s references to Jesus, various speakers describe how they—unlike “some people”—will “show [their] love for” their fellow humans. “If you don’t talk as most people do / some people talk and laugh at you,” a child tells a tongue-tied classmate. “But I won’t! / I won’t! / I’ll talk with you / and giggle too. / That’s how I’ll show my love for you.” Unfortunately, many speakers’ actions feel vague and rather patronizing even as they aim to include and reassure. “I know you bring such interesting things,” a wheelchair user says, welcoming a family “born far, far away” who arrives at the airport; the adults wear Islamic clothing. As pink- and brown-skinned worshipers join a solitary brown-skinned person who somehow “[doesn’t] pray as some people pray” on a church pew, a smiling, pink-skinned worshiper’s declaration that “we’re all, I see, one family” raises echoes of the problematic assertion, “I don’t see color.” The speakers’ exclamations of “But I won’t!” after noting others’ prejudiced behavior reads more as self-congratulation than promise of inclusion. Sanders’ geometric, doll-like human figures are cheery but stiff, and the text’s bold, uppercase typeface switches jarringly to cursive for the refrain, “That’s how I’ll show my love for you.” Characters’ complexions include paper-white, yellow, pink, and brown.

An unfortunately simplistic delivery of a well-intentioned message. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4236-5395-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Gibbs Smith

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Too many bugs, figuratively.

LUCY'S LIGHT

Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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