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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Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier.

FACTS VS. OPINIONS VS. ROBOTS

Charismatic robots populate this primer for kids growing up in an era when facts are considered debatable and opinions are oft expressed loudly and without empathy.

Rex tackles a very serious topic infrequently addressed in kids’ books: how to tell the difference between provable facts and far-less-provable opinions. To do this, Rex employs a handful of colorful and chatty robot pals who run through enough examples to make the distinctions clear. For instance, it’s a fact that the blue robot has two arms while the gold robot has four. However, while they both like to dance, it’s less certain there’s a definitive answer to the question: “Which of them has the coolest moves?” When the green and yellow robots share their preferences for ice cream (yes, robots eat ice cream, just add oil or nuts and bolts), it turns into a fight that might have come off a Twitter thread (“We are getting chocolate!” “No way, buckethead!”). Via a series of reboots, the robots learn how to respect opinions and engage in compromise. It’s a welcome use of skill-building to counter an information landscape filled with calls of “Fake news!” and toxic online discourse. Rex never says that these ’bots sometimes act like social media bots when they disagree, but he doesn’t have to. Perhaps most importantly, Rex’s robots demonstrate that in the absence of enough information, it’s perfectly fine to wait before acting.

Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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PEACEFUL FIGHTS FOR EQUAL RIGHTS

An alphabet book to bring change, with the younger generation leading the way.

Nonviolent protests play a major part in history. Sanders wants to ensure that readers learn the importance of taking a stand at an early age. Comparisons to Innosanto Nagara’s A Is for Activist (2013) are inescapable, but this primer carries a bit more depth. It is a direct call to action. The spread for I and J, for instance, pleads: “Inquire. / Invite. / Inform. / Imagine. // Join others on the journey. Join others in the fight.” (The words beginning with I appear on protest signs, while the words beginning with J appear in the narrative text.) The page for S implores readers to “Stand up. / Speak out. / Sit down. / Sing loud. / Be silent.” While the spread for P? A pure white background that whispers a single word: “Pray.” Historical events such as the Delano grape strike (“Boycott! Boycott! Boycott!”) share the book with current ones, such as a protesting football player (“Take a knee”). Schorr’s matte, cut-paper illustrations are full of intricate parts, echoing the ways individuals weave together to form a community. Various races, ages, ethnicities, and abilities are all present. Adult-child interaction is still needed to lift this work to its full potential, but an author’s note and glossary help provide context for an engaging conversation.

Hopeful. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2943-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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