SOLEDAD SIGH-SIGHS/SOLEDAD SUSPIROS

Soledad (whose name means solitude) sighs because she is a latchkey kid. Almost every day after school, she does her homework, has her supper, and falls asleep on the couch before anyone else is home. By keeping his focus firmly on Soledad’s perceptions, González enhances her feelings of isolation from the adult world, a situation reflected in Ibarra’s almost adult-free illustrations. Thus, when the neighbor Mrs. Ahmed checks on Soledad in the afternoon, the woman speaks through the door and doesn’t enter the apartment or the illustration. Likewise, Soledad’s mother appears only twice—waking Soledad up for school and coming home early from work one afternoon—and her father never. But Soledad begins to see her situation from a new angle when her friends, sisters Nedelsy and Jahniza, catch her playing with an imaginary sister. The two girls accompany Soledad home that afternoon and help her understand the advantages of time to oneself and how to think of close friends like themselves as family. In this way González creates a comforting and familiar ambience even as he deals with an uncomfortable reality. Even so, some readers will find the lack of dramatic tension a drawback, distancing Soledad because she seems so internalized. Others may bristle at the semi-baby talk of the title (both Soledad’s nickname and her almost inevitable response to too many situations). These reservations about the text (in both English and Spanish) do not apply to the artwork. Ibarra depicts Soledad’s urban environment in warm earth tones and blues, predominantly executed in chalk, and the round faces of Soledad and her friends and neighbors are stylized and child-like without being cartoonish. These strengths, combined with González’s insights into the child’s mind, create a visually inviting and emotionally encouraging experience, but one that will likely function better as a shared reading between adult and child rather than a child’s read-alone. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-89239-180-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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