Make-believe play where imagination soars.

BILLIE'S GREAT DESERT ADVENTURE

From the Billie B. Brown series

Billie B. Brown (of the eponymous beginning chapter-book series) is now featured in a younger version for the preschool set.

With two adventures published simultaneously (Billie’s Underwater Adventure, 2016), Rippin explores young frustrations and the power of imaginative play. In this escapade, black-haired, pink-cheeked Billie is angry at her teacher, Miss Amy, who won’t let Billie stomp outside in the puddles. Instead, she says rainy days should be used for reading. Billie sulks, hidden among the cushions in the classroom’s reading nook. But thanks to her sandy-haired white friend Jack’s imagination, the cushions suddenly become a cave. Dressed in stereotypical Arabian garb, Billie and Jack discover a secret treasure, are chased by 40 thieves, and ride a magic carpet. All before snack time! Highlighted action words such as “scramble,” “wriggle,” and “wrestle” expand readers’ vocabularies, while the preschool setting (and corresponding emotions) is familiar. The imaginary stereotypical turbaned, bearded, and scimitar-waving thieves strike an off note, but for the most part, Coburn’s delicate illustrations and the small trim size make this a tiny gem of discovery.

Make-believe play where imagination soars. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61067-457-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here.

ONE LOVE

A sugary poem, very loosely based on the familiar song, lacks focus.

Using only the refrain from the original (“One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel all right!”), the reggae great’s daughter Cedella Marley sees this song as her “happy song” and adapts it for children. However, the adaptation robs it of life. After the opening lines, readers familiar with the original song (or the tourism advertisement for Jamaica) will be humming along only to be stopped by the bland lines that follow: “One love, what the flower gives the bee.” and then “One love, what Mother Earth gives the tree.” Brantley-Newton’s sunny illustrations perfectly reflect the saccharine quality of the text. Starting at the beginning of the day, readers see a little girl first in bed, under a photograph of Bob Marley, the sun streaming into her room, a bird at the window. Each spread is completely redundant—when the text is about family love, the illustration actually shows little hearts floating from her parents to the little girl. An image of a diverse group getting ready to plant a community garden, walking on top of a river accompanies the words “One love, like the river runs to the sea.”

Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0224-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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