Diverse in so many ways, this could be a springboard to readers’ own poems about school.

A NEW SCHOOL YEAR

STORIES IN SIX VOICES

At the start of a new school year, six children tell of their worries, hopes, and growth in 24 free-verse poems.

The book is divided into four sections, with one poem for each of the six children in each section: “The Night Before,” “In the Morning,” “At School,” and “After School.” The children and their situations are quite diverse: Ethan is a blond, white kindergartener who lives with his mom, with his grandpa in a nearby apartment; Zach is a confident black first-grader; shy second-grader Katie’s skin is light brown, and she lives with her mom and grandmother; Jackie is a blonde, white third-grade latchkey kid; Carlos is a Latino fourth-grader whose poems are sprinkled with Spanish; and Mia is an Asian fifth-grader who wears hearing aids. While none of the poems by themselves stands out as anything amazing, the four separate poems each child is allotted combine to paint a picture of a full character: Ethan carries Bear’s jacket in his pocket and draws extra family members since his little triad looks lonesome on the white page. But he resolves to own up and to leave Bear’s jacket at home tomorrow. And altogether, the collection presents readers with snapshots of first days across the spectrum of grades, from stomach butterflies and new-teacher worries to class jobs and making both mistakes and new friends. Song’s watercolor-and–sumi-ink illustrations clearly show the kids’ emotions and some of the sights common to almost all classrooms.

Diverse in so many ways, this could be a springboard to readers’ own poems about school. (Picture book/poetry 4-10)

Pub Date: June 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-730-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Despite the name recognition of the author and relevance of the story, sweet yet inconsequential.

I COLOR MYSELF DIFFERENT

A debut picture book from the NFL quarterback who took a knee during the national anthem.

Kaepernick speaks directly to children about growing up Black in a White family. The story focuses on one incident: When he shares a drawing of his adoptive family with his class, other students ask why he’s the only brown-skinned one. But with reassurance from his mother, young Colin realizes he should take pride in his identity. Although he says, “I don’t know too many kids who look like me,” the bland, somewhat idealized illustrations show a classroom with children with a variety of skin tones, and the teacher is Black. The story includes a rather simplistic explanation of what it means to be adopted: “Ever since Mom wrapped me in that warm hug, I knew having brown skin and being adopted made me special.” Kaepernick adds, “I have brown eyes, a brown nose, and brown hands...just like the people who inspire, create, lead, and change the world.” The accompanying illustration depicts nine African American historical figures, including athletes famous for taking political stands: Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who raised their fists at the 1968 Olympics, and Muhammad Ali, as well as Huey Newton, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Malcolm X. The historical roles of these individuals are explained in a brief addendum. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Despite the name recognition of the author and relevance of the story, sweet yet inconsequential. (“letter to the reader”) (Picture-book biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-78962-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2022

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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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