Enchanting, beautiful, and full of hope.

READ REVIEW

TEACUP

In a book that combines short, poetic sentences with dramatic visual art, a light-skinned boy, needing a new home, sets off to sea in a rowboat.

As the boy begins his odyssey, his knapsack contains only “a book, a bottle, and a blanket. In his teacup he held some earth from where he used to play.” Vast expanses of sea and sky are conveyed both in monumental oil paintings and by the white or colored negative space of some double-page spreads. The text and artwork complement each other to produce a journey that combines elements of reality and dreamlike images. The palette ranges from pale to vibrant, and details are striking—the boy’s lengthening hair, sun dappling a birch. Ominous clouds never become horrific; hardships such as hunger are not addressed. The rhythm of the text, as well as its gentle alliterations and occasional rhymes, makes it an excellent bedtime read-aloud. There is poignancy—and mystery—in “how things can change with a whisper.” Why did the boy leave his beloved home? Readers are never told, making this book a potent discussion starter. The care given to both art and text elevate the simplicity of the life-is-a-journey-fraught-with-uncertainty message. The delightful results of his determination to hold onto his soil-filled teacup and an unexpectedly sweet ending add to that message the notion that those who strive and dream will eventually thrive.

Enchanting, beautiful, and full of hope. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2777-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Penfold and Kaufman have outdone themselves in delivering a vital message in today’s political climate. Let’s hope more...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

ALL ARE WELCOME

A lively city school celebrates its diversity.

Front endpapers show adult caregivers walking their charges to school, the families a delightful mix that includes interracial, same-sex, and heterosexual couples as well as single caregivers; the rear endpapers assemble them again at the conclusion of a successful schoolwide evening potluck. In between, the rhyming verses focus on aspects of a typical school day, always ending with the titular phrase: “Time for lunch—what a spread! / A dozen different kinds of bread. / Pass it around till everyone’s fed. / All are welcome here.” Indeed, this school is diversity exemplified. Several kids point to their home countries on a world map, and some wear markers of their cultural or religious groups: There’s a girl in hijab, a boy wearing a Sikh patka, and a boy in a kippah. A rainbow of hair colors and skin tones is in evidence, and children with disabilities are also included: a blind boy, a girl in a wheelchair, and several kids with glasses. What is most wonderful, though, is the way they interact with one another without regard to their many differences. Kaufman’s acrylic, ink, crayon, collage, and Photoshop illustrations bring the many personalities in this school community to life. “You have a place here. / You have a space here. / You are welcome here.”

Penfold and Kaufman have outdone themselves in delivering a vital message in today’s political climate. Let’s hope more people, starting with this picture book’s audience, embrace it. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-57964-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more