A heartbreakingly necessary work.

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MOMMA, DID YOU HEAR THE NEWS?

In this rhyming picture book, black parents tell their sons how to behave if approached by a police officer.

A young black child is distressed by the news that police have shot another man. “They say he had a little girl, / Bet she misses him a lot,” says the worried boy. His brother is upset, too, about other shootings: “One boy was eating skittles. / Dad, I like to eat them too!” The boys’ father decides it’s time for “THE TALK”—one that will be sadly familiar to many parents of color. To be safe around police, the parents say, one must remember the acronym “ALIVE”: “ALWAYS USE YOUR MANNERS!,” “LISTEN AND COMPLY!,” “Stay IN CONTROL of your emotions!,” “VISIBLE hands at ALL times!,” and “EXPLAIN any movement!” The parents remind their sons that, although it’s natural to be angry and sad, it’s not right to blame all officers for the behavior of some. In her debut book, Gragg (Daddy, Did You Hear the News?, 2018) offers straightforward, useful, and easily remembered guidelines, though the fact that they’re needed is wrenching. Nearly all picture books about police only emphasize their trustworthiness, so Gragg fills a crucial gap in the literature while depicting remarkably evenhanded emotions. Holt’s illustrations depict the loving family well and show diverse characters, including a black officer.

A heartbreakingly necessary work.

Pub Date: April 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5423-3253-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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Penfold and Kaufman have outdone themselves in delivering a vital message in today’s political climate. Let’s hope more...

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ALL ARE WELCOME

A lively city school celebrates its diversity.

Front endpapers show adult caregivers walking their charges to school, the families a delightful mix that includes interracial, same-sex, and heterosexual couples as well as single caregivers; the rear endpapers assemble them again at the conclusion of a successful schoolwide evening potluck. In between, the rhyming verses focus on aspects of a typical school day, always ending with the titular phrase: “Time for lunch—what a spread! / A dozen different kinds of bread. / Pass it around till everyone’s fed. / All are welcome here.” Indeed, this school is diversity exemplified. Several kids point to their home countries on a world map, and some wear markers of their cultural or religious groups: There’s a girl in hijab, a boy wearing a Sikh patka, and a boy in a kippah. A rainbow of hair colors and skin tones is in evidence, and children with disabilities are also included: a blind boy, a girl in a wheelchair, and several kids with glasses. What is most wonderful, though, is the way they interact with one another without regard to their many differences. Kaufman’s acrylic, ink, crayon, collage, and Photoshop illustrations bring the many personalities in this school community to life. “You have a place here. / You have a space here. / You are welcome here.”

Penfold and Kaufman have outdone themselves in delivering a vital message in today’s political climate. Let’s hope more people, starting with this picture book’s audience, embrace it. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-57964-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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