An uneven but nevertheless worthy effort.




From the Let's Talk About You and Me series

This installment of the Let’s Talk About You and Me series tackles a wide range of topics related to human diversity.

Opening text affirms everyone’s uniqueness: “All around the world there are people—billions of people. But there is only one of you,” while Westcott’s art depicts ethnically diverse families entering a theme park called Funland. There are interracial families, a child using a wheelchair, a woman wearing a headscarf, and a two-dad family. One interracial family, including a black mother, white father, two children, and a baby appears in every spread, and the children’s speech-balloon conversation punctuates the narrative text’s statements about hair texture, skin color, eye shape, languages, dress, stature, etc. While the intention is clearly inclusive, some phrasing may give readers pause: “People’s bodies are mostly the same—except for the parts that make them a girl or a boy, or a man or a woman,” for instance, ignores increasing awareness of intersex bodies and transgender identity. Illustrations also do little to present diversity in body shape and size, since the majority of people depicted are slim. Readers are invited to consider the pain caused by “saying mean things,” which pushes beyond surface celebration of diversity. This leads to a closing reiteration of each person’s uniqueness while also emphasizing that “we are more the same than we are different,” especially with regard to feelings. [Note: Subsequent printings of the book replace the sentence "People's bodies are mostly the same—except for the parts that make them a girl or boy, or a man or a woman" with the following text: "People’s bodies are mostly the same except for the private parts we are born with. Those parts are called a vagina or a penis.”]

An uneven but nevertheless worthy effort. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6903-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced.


Watch out, Hug Machine (Scott Campbell, 2014), there’s another long-limbed lover of squeezes in the mix.

Bernard, a tiny, lavender bird, dejectedly sits atop a high branch. His wings droop all the way to the ground. Heaving a sigh, his disappointment is palpable. With insufferably long wings, he has never been able to fly. All of his friends easily took to the skies, leaving him behind. There is nothing left to do but sit in his tree and feel sorry for himself. Adamson amusingly shows readers the passage of time with a sequence of vignettes of Bernard sitting in the rain, the dark, and amid a cloud of paper wasps—never moving from his branch. Then one day he hears a sob and finds a tearful orangutan. Without even thinking, Bernard wraps his long wings around the great ape. The orangutan is comforted! Bernard has finally found the best use of his wings. In gentle watercolor and pencil sketches, Adamson slips in many moments of humor. Animals come from all over to tell Bernard their troubles (a lion muses that it is “lonely at the top of the food chain” while a bat worries about missing out on fun during the day). Three vertical spreads that necessitate a 90-degree rotation add to the fun.

Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9271-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.


A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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