A royal serving of fun for the new-baby shelf.

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HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS, KING BABY

A TERRIBLE TRUE STORY

A big sister’s nose is out of joint when her baby brother arrives and makes a royal mess of what she regarded as her once-ideal life.

First-person text establishes “the most beautifulest, cleverest, ever-so-kindest Princess with long, flowing wondrous hair” as the narrator of this new-baby story. Illustrations amplify the flowery text’s humor by depicting the white girl with bobbed hair and wearing a pair of yellow tights on her head to emulate Rapunzel-like locks. After King Baby, who is also white though initially hairless, arrives, parallel series of panel illustrations, one rendered in the cartoon style of the main book, the other in a naïve style that suggests a child’s hand, detail the ways that the baby disrupts her happy life with his pooping, burping, attention-hogging ways. The worst arrives with his first birthday, which she decides to interrupt “disguised as a Mysterious Fairy, with a magic wand, a big very magical nose, and a cunning plan….” But before she can put her plan into action, the baby is overwhelmed by the party guests’ singing and attention and begins to cry. Who can soothe him? Only his big sister, of course. She’s now a “Kind Fairy [whose] loveliness had grown even stronger (like a sparkling mountain stream).” And, yes, following this act of sisterly kindness, “They Lived Happily Ever After—THE END….”

A royal serving of fun for the new-baby shelf. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9793-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force.

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A young boy yearns for what he doesn’t have, but his nana teaches him to find beauty in what he has and can give, as well as in the city where they live.

CJ doesn’t want to wait in the rain or take the bus or go places after church. But through Nana’s playful imagination and gentle leadership, he begins to see each moment as an opportunity: Trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. On the bus, Nana inspires an impromptu concert, and CJ’s lifted into a daydream of colors and light, moon and magic. Later, when walking past broken streetlamps on the way to the soup kitchen, CJ notices a rainbow and thinks of his nana’s special gift to see “beautiful where he never even thought to look.” Through de la Peña’s brilliant text, readers can hear, feel and taste the city: its grit and beauty, its quiet moments of connectedness. Robinson’s exceptional artwork works with it to ensure that readers will fully understand CJ’s journey toward appreciation of the vibrant, fascinating fabric of the city. Loosely defined patterns and gestures offer an immediate and raw quality to the Sasek-like illustrations. Painted in a warm palette, this diverse urban neighborhood is imbued with interest and possibility.

This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-25774-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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