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

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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.

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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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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