As beautiful as it is informative about this little-known battle in the fight for equality.

TWO GROOMS ON A CAKE

THE STORY OF AMERICA'S FIRST GAY WEDDING

The first legal gay marriage in the U.S. was held in…1971.

The two groom figurines on the top of the cake at the first legal same-sex wedding celebration narrate the story of Jack and Michael, who met in 1966. The cake-topping grooms compare the creation of the cake they will stand on to the growing relationship of the couple and then to their struggle to get a marriage license, which includes law school, a name change (from Jack to the gender-neutral Pat), and a solo visit to City Hall for the license (for Michael). The cake is finished; the license is granted. Michael and Jack celebrate their wedding…but the battle for equality is far from over. Fifty years on, the couple is even more in love, and finally LGBTQ+ couples can marry in all 50 states. Sanders tells the tale in easy-to-understand language, sweet as the frosting on the cake, and leaves the bulk of the details for the comprehensive backmatter: author’s note, marriage equality timeline, photographs of Jack and Michael as young and older men, and a well-rounded bibliography. Cathro’s whimsical, retro-feeling illustrations on cream-colored paper show the cake toppers assisting in the creation of the cake as their human counterparts work for the right to marry. Both cake toppers and human grooms present White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

As beautiful as it is informative about this little-known battle in the fight for equality. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0956-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist.

HOW TO WRITE A STORY

This follow-up to How To Read a Story (2005) shows a child going through the steps of creating a story, from choosing an idea through sharing with friends.

A young black child lies in a grassy field writing in a journal, working on “Step 1 / Search for an Idea— / a shiny one.” During a walk to the library, various ideas float in colorful thought bubbles, with exclamation points: “playing soccer! / dogs!” Inside the library, less-distinct ideas, expressed as shapes and pictures, with question marks, float about as the writer collects ideas to choose from. The young writer must then choose a setting, a main character, and a problem for that protagonist. Plotting, writing with detail, and revising are described in child-friendly terms and shown visually, in the form of lists and notes on faux pieces of paper. Finally, the writer sits in the same field, in a new season, sharing the story with friends. The illustrations feature the child’s writing and drawing as well as images of imagined events from the book in progress bursting off the page. The child’s main character is an adventurous mermaid who looks just like the child, complete with afro-puff pigtails, representing an affirming message about writing oneself into the world. The child’s family, depicted as black, moves in the background of the setting, which is also populated by a multiracial cast.

A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5666-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans.

EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT SHARKS AND OTHER UNDERWATER CREATURES!

In the wake of Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts! (2019), Lowery spins out likewise frothy arrays of facts and observations about sharks, whales, giant squid, and smaller but no less extreme (or at least extremely interesting) sea life.

He provides plenty of value-added features, from overviews of oceanic zones and environments to jokes, drawing instructions, and portrait galleries suitable for copying or review. While not one to pass up any opportunity to, for instance, characterize ambergris as “whale vomit perfume” or the clownfish’s protective coating as “snot armor,” he also systematically introduces members of each of the eight orders of sharks, devotes most of a page to the shark’s electroreceptive ampullae of Lorenzini, and even sheds light on the unobvious differences between jellyfish and the Portuguese man-of-war or the reason why the blue octopus is said to have “arms” rather than “tentacles.” He also argues persuasively that sharks have gotten a bad rap (claiming that more people are killed each year by…vending machines) and closes with pleas to be concerned about plastic waste, to get involved in conservation efforts, and (cannily) to get out and explore our planet because (quoting Jacques-Yves Cousteau) “People protect what they love.” Human figures, some with brown skin, pop up occasionally to comment in the saturated color illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

An immersive dunk into a vast subject—and on course for shorter attention spans. (bibliography, list of organizations) (Nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35973-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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