PRIDE PUPPY!

Highly—and proudly—recommended.

LGBTQIA + ABC + dog = fun!

This queer-centric alphabet book follows a young light-brown–skinned protagonist of ambiguous gender, their moms (an interracial couple), baby sibling, and rambunctious dog as they get ready to head off to a Pride parade. Disaster looms, however, when a tumble leads to a loose dog and a chase through the parade to reunite the four-legged member of the family with its bipedal owners. Each page introduces the next letter of the alphabet, advancing the story and along the way offering a plethora of vocabulary words (sometimes in print, sometimes in illustrations—a concluding search-and-find word list will send readers back through the book). While the story is sweet, the illustrations are the real stars of the show, depicting realistic characters and a crowd that is diverse in age, skin tone, racial presentation, size and shape, ability, and body modification. The cartoon illustrations are highly detailed, which may make the book challenging for large-group storytimes, but it will keep lap-readers invested as they pore over the characters, designs, and background actions. The only thing missing is a flag identification guide to help caregivers identify the variety of identities found and supported within the book. That quibble aside, the book is sheer delight and will be a welcome addition to shelves everywhere.

Highly—and proudly—recommended. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2484-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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