Bright and bold, this will certainly catch the eye of every reader.

CHINESE NEW YEAR COLORS

A color-concept book with a bilingual, cultural twist.

Chinese New Year gets a daring new look. A single color dominates a complete page spread. On recto, the name of the featured color in English is displayed on a white background while both the traditional Chinese characters and a romanized rendition, complete with accent marks, appear below in an inverse color scheme. A single cultural object related to Chinese New Year fully occupies the right. Here Lo’s talents shine with his renderings. The composition is simple, with the object sitting solo, centered within the line of sight. Artistic liberties are tastefully taken, with the object portrayed in a singular color that is occasionally contrary to tradition. Yet no embellishments are lost in the deceptively spare composition. This is best observed on the portrait of the teapot. Lo makes sure that no flower, leaf, or curly twirl of its details is omitted. The objects seem to pop due to the skilled shading and tricks of perspective. The background itself teems with textures, with occasional splatters of paint, bleeding edges, and blooms of watercolor that unevenly occupy the space. Vocabulary-wise, the only outlier is the use of the word “Cerulean” instead of “light blue,” which may require an explanation. A guide describing each object follows.

Bright and bold, this will certainly catch the eye of every reader. (Picture book 2-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4371-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A timely message in the wrong format.

TOGETHER

This book delivers a message on the power of collective action.

As the book opens, a child looks at a lone star shining in the sky: “One star shines as distant light.” After the turn of the page, the child now sees what looks like the Milky Way: “And when stars shine together, they make our galaxy.” The book goes on to give a number of similar examples to reinforce the message of the power that comes from working together, ending with: “One of us can speak up for justice / And when we speak up together we create a world of possibility.” In the current atmosphere of strife and discord that divides our country, this is certainly a welcome message. Perhaps, though, the board-book set is not the right audience. As a picture book aimed at a slightly older group with an information page at the end explaining some of the illustrations, it might work well. As it is, however, some of the visual references will merely puzzle a toddler—and some adults. For example, a group of angry-looking people raising their fists and singing together may not look like “harmony” to a toddler—unless they know about the New Zealand haka. There is an unexplained frog motif that runs through the book that may also mystify readers. Nagara’s brilliant illustrations portray people of many ethnic backgrounds.

A timely message in the wrong format. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64421-084-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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There are plenty of picture books about colors, but they’re not all love letters. This one is.

COLORS

Explore colors through photographs.

Detailed in succinct, subtly poetic text, the six core spectrum colors plus black and white each receive two full-bleed double-page spreads in a row. Each color’s initial spread names it and assigns it a verb—“green hops”—across from a checkerboard of many shades of that color, with a photograph replacing one square. For green, that square is a frog photo. Green’s second spread presents text inside a rectangle—“Green grass grows. Green peppers, leaves and peas. Lizards and limes, green eyes”—and varying sizes of rectangular, close-up photos. Neat green borders glue the photo rectangles together, leaving no white space. Other colors follow the same format. The verbs don’t connect to their hues inherently—“blue floats” mightn’t work out of context—but the black girl in the turquoise swimsuit floating blissfully in blue water provides all the sense in the world. Rotner’s photographs are crisp, glowing, and crystal clear, bursting with nature and joy, making daily objects gorgeous. A yellow slicker and a sunny-side up egg positively glisten; an orange sunset almost requires sunglasses. The children (a multiracial cast) vary between facing the camera and doing their own thing, like blowing up a purple balloon or licking an orange Popsicle.

There are plenty of picture books about colors, but they’re not all love letters. This one is. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4063-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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