A well-crafted, engaging book about resilient childhoods in the face of displacement and conflict.

CHILD'S PLAY

Danny loves to make music, Molly loves to paint and draw, and Marcus loves to write.

The three siblings engage in their creative worlds individually and together, finding refuge from stressors around them and producing songs, stories, poems, and beautiful artwork. Color-rich, collage-infused illustrations (printed on environmentally friendly pages) portray their joyful play, in contrast with protests, conflict, and fighting in the background. The street and protest signs as well as the words on TV appear in the book’s original Spanish. The brown-skinned children continue to pursue their passions despite their parents’ urging that they stay quiet, and their teachers become concerned that they’re not paying attention in school and are isolating themselves. But the children’s play is a form of therapy or mechanism for survival, as they seem to be able to shut off the hostile noises of the world around them. When the siblings realize that they need to move to a new, safer house in another country, they become very sad. However, shortly thereafter they conclude that home is where the heart and family are. They then create a warm home in their new residence and continue to be who they are—joyful creative children at play. The most important thing is for them to stay together.

A well-crafted, engaging book about resilient childhoods in the face of displacement and conflict. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-84-16733-76-7

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Positively refreshing.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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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