An amusing, subdued story with exemplary illustrations, this sweet flight of fancy will find a young audience eager to...

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MOST MARSHMALLOWS

A confection of marshmallows harbors quixotic dreams of greatness.

“Most marshmallows don’t grow on trees,” starts this understated story. With quiet humor, the text informs children that, like them, “Most marshmallows are mostly born to one sweet parent or two,” and that “They go to school most mornings / and learn to be squishy and how to stand in rows.” Most marshmallows seem to navigate with equanimity the realities and dramas of domestic life, like a bursting backpack or a dinner tantrum. “But some marshmallows somehow secretly know / that all marshmallows / can do anything / or be anything / they dare to imagine.” The inventive, sly, mixed-media illustrations provide wit and delight only hinted at by the spare, idiosyncratic prose. A mixture of paper collage, photographs of objects (like a cardboard dinner table loaded with plastic carrots), and hilariously expressive line drawings on real marshmallows pack beauty, tension, and drama into each page. An unnecessary throughline involving dragons slightly mars the overall feel of the story, especially the jarring ending in which a marshmallow knight breathes fire at one; the humor and kid appeal work perfectly without that bit of pandering.

An amusing, subdued story with exemplary illustrations, this sweet flight of fancy will find a young audience eager to devour it. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5959-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Necessary nourishment, infectiously joyous.

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THE KING OF KINDERGARTEN

Newbery honoree Barnes (Crown, illustrated by Gordon C. James, 2017) shows a black boy what to expect on his first day as “king” of kindergarten.

A young boy greets the reader with a sweet smile. “The morning sun blares through your window like a million brass trumpets. / It sits and shines behind your head—like a crown.” The text continues in second person while the boy gets ready for his first day—brushing “Ye Royal Chiclets,” dressing himself, eating breakfast with his mother and father before riding “a big yellow carriage” to “a grand fortress.” The kind teacher and the other children at his table are as eager to meet him as he is to meet them. Important topics are covered in class (“shapes, the alphabet, and the never-ending mystery of numbers”), but playing at recess and sharing with new friends at lunch are highlights too, followed by rest time and music. The playful illustrations use texture and shadow to great effect, with vibrant colors and dynamic shapes and lines sustaining readers’ interest on every page. Text and visuals work together beautifully to generate excitement and confidence in children getting ready to enter kindergarten. The little king’s smiling brown face is refreshing and heartwarming. The other children and parents are a mix of races; the teacher and staff are mostly brown.

Necessary nourishment, infectiously joyous. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4074-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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