For families wishing to discuss the pandemic, this timely tale works as a conversation starter.

SOCIALLY DISTANCED

A KEEPSAKE JOURNAL

In this picture book, a poem about the Covid-19 world invites readers to answer questions about their own experiences.

Beginning a poem with a familiar Valentine refrain about roses and violets, Stern’s narrator claims to have crafted the piece due to having “nothing to do / … / You can blame all of this / on the Corona flu!” The narrator chronicles the start of the Covid-19 pandemic through the stockpiling of toilet paper and lockdowns. The poem briefly mentions political divides but focuses more on the emotions and doubts experienced by families during the ordeal. Beneath several illustrations, the author leaves blank lines for readers to answer questions about their own thoughts and feelings as well as including lined pages at the end of the book for more elaborate memories to be recorded. Though Stern mixes up two viruses (coronavirus and the flu) for the sake of the rhyme in his opening, the stanzas scan well and the vocabulary is accessible. The questions seem designed to be used in conversations between parents and their elementary or middle school children. Hill is a political cartoonist. It makes sense that the humorous illustrations here feel like newspaper political cartoons. Along with offering some satirical images (the line for toilet paper stretches down a city block), Hill captures the uncertainty faced by one (pale-skinned) family with sensitivity. Other illustrations of larger groups feature a more diverse population.

For families wishing to discuss the pandemic, this timely tale works as a conversation starter.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing.

WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!

Both technique and imaginative impulse can be found in this useful selection of poems about the literary art.

Starting with the essentials of the English language, the letters of “Our Alphabet,” the collection moves through 21 other poems of different types, meters, and rhyme schemes. This anthology has clear classroom applications, but it will also be enjoyed by individual readers who can pore carefully over playful illustrations filled with diverse children, butterflies, flowers, books, and pieces of writing. Tackling various parts of the writing process, from “How To Begin” through “Revision Is” to “Final Edit,” the poems also touch on some reasons for writing, like “Thank You Notes” and “Writing About Reading.” Some of the poems are funny, as in the quirky, four-line “If I Were an Octopus”: “I’d grab eight pencils. / All identical. / I’d fill eight notebooks. / One per tentacle.” An amusing undersea scene dominated by a smiling, orangy octopus fills this double-page spread. Some of the poems are more focused (and less lyrical) than others, such as “Final Edit” with its ending stanzas: “I check once more to guarantee / all is flawless as can be. / Careless errors will discredit / my hard work. / That’s why I edit. / But I don’t like it. / There I said it.” At least the poet tries for a little humor in those final lines.

Here’s hoping this will inspire many children to joyfully engage in writing. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-362-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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