AFTER THE GOAT MAN

The small cast — three children and a dispossessed old man whose shack is in the path of a new superhighway — sounds familiar, and the relatively short time span and few incidents make this more like a story than even a children's novel. And when the goat man withdraws from the world in his new project home, then sets off wordlessly to sit with a shotgun in the old one that's about to be bulldozed, Byars resorts to a bike accident that injures his grandson Figgy to bring the old man out of the shack and back to reality. The ending, in which a doctor called to the accident (he's the father of Ada, the third child) resolves to find a farm for Figgy and his grandfather, is even more pat. But it is easy to identify and sympathize with overweight, daydreaming Harold, Figgy's new friend, whose very fantasies are expressed with a cant-mocking, self-deprecating wryness and whose apprehensive, lonely walk to fetch the armed goat man for his injured grandson is a modest act of courage. Figgy, too, with his fear of bicycles and his urchin's impulsiveness, is an appealing sketch, and if we never get behind what Harold considers Ada's "remote, Egyptian look," her supportive competence is just what both boys need. Slight in body, trite in plot, but very nicely handled.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1974

ISBN: 0140315330

Page Count: 132

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1974

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Positively refreshing.

HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Wonderful, indeed

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THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU WILL BE

A GROWING-UP POEM

A love song to baby with delightful illustrations to boot.

Sweet but not saccharine and singsong but not forced, Martin’s text is one that will invite rereadings as it affirms parental wishes for children while admirably keeping child readers at its heart. The lines that read “This is the first time / There’s ever been you, / So I wonder what wonderful things / You will do” capture the essence of the picture book and are accompanied by a diverse group of babies and toddlers clad in downright adorable outfits. Other spreads include older kids, too, and pictures expand on the open text to visually interpret the myriad possibilities and hopes for the depicted children. For example, a spread reading “Will you learn how to fly / To find the best view?” shows a bespectacled, school-aged girl on a swing soaring through an empty white background. This is just one spread in which Martin’s fearless embrace of the white of the page serves her well. Throughout the book, she maintains a keen balance of layout choices, and surprising details—zebras on the wallpaper behind a father cradling his child, a rock-’n’-roll band of mice paralleling the children’s own band called “The Missing Teeth”—add visual interest and gentle humor. An ideal title for the baby-shower gift bag and for any nursery bookshelf or lap-sit storytime.

Wonderful, indeed . (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37671-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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