A well-intentioned homily in which tolerance and kindness overcome bullying, but the tone is cloying and the message feels...

READ REVIEW

THE STORY OF AND

THE LITTLE WORD THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

A little girl counts how many times the word “and” appears in her books and demonstrates to the adults in her life how important that little word can be.

She narrates supposedly old tales about shapes. A circle is insulted by a line until the cheerful uppercase AND, referred to as female, comes along “so simple and sure” and announces ‘Yes, we can!” and joins their hands (not pictured in the illustrations), and voilà, they form a balloon. A rectangle insults a triangle, bringing the chirpy AND again, joining them to make a seesaw. A rectangle and a square are joined to make a house, an oval and a line form musical notes, and a cylinder and an octagon form a table for people to gather in community. The rhyming tale is disjointed, with a particularly preachy conclusion, and the subtitle is quite misleading. Rothenberg’s very bright cartoons enhance the tale, with the depiction of AND varied and charming, especially when seen from a distance. But the illustrations have their own deficiencies. The rectangle that meets the triangle is extremely elongated and appears to be nearly identical to the rather wide line that joins with the oval. There is a link to download a song based on the tale. The child who begins it all appears white; some of the adults in her life are people of color.

A well-intentioned homily in which tolerance and kindness overcome bullying, but the tone is cloying and the message feels forced. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947888-05-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flyaway Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more