Another fine and enlightening peek into Lauren’s unique, often challenging world that displays her differences but...

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PENGUIN DAYS

Lauren, who has autism spectrum disorder, is back for a second outing following Slug Days (2017).

Lauren, her parents, and her baby sister have made the long car trip (“two days, eight movies, four chapter books, and three throw-ups”) to get to Auntie Joss’ North Dakota farm. Lauren is—very reluctantly—going to be one of three flower girls in her aunt’s wedding. A scratchy dress, a little vomit, and an accidental fall into the calves’ stall will all get in the way, although Lauren’s dislike of new situations and a bad case of stage fright are the biggest challenges. Lauren relates her prickly feelings in a believably forthright voice that offers readers welcome insight into her perspective. Her emerging understanding of facial expressions helps her relate her parents’ and teacher’s periodic frustrations with her difficulties, yet their occasional annoyance is neatly juxtaposed against her thoughts and feelings. Just when she’s feeling the most vulnerable and alone, her cousins find the perfect way to smooth her bumpy path, cementing their role in her life. Bender’s soft, gentle illustrations expand and illuminate Lauren’s narrative. Plenty of white space and short chapters make this empathetic effort extra accessible to a broad audience. Lauren and her family present white; her cousins, who all have straight, black hair, are biracial, but their ethnicity is unspecified.

Another fine and enlightening peek into Lauren’s unique, often challenging world that displays her differences but highlights the needs she shares with all children: love, acceptance and friendship. (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77278-053-6

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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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Grit and imagination combine to turn “No” into a definite “Yes.”

A THOUSAND NO'S

Corchin and Doughtery combine talents in this metaphorical tale of creativity, resilience, and growth mindset.

This book’s noseless, bristly-ponytailed protagonist has a great idea (never named but represented visually as a glowing egg), but like many ideas, it runs into hiccups along the way to fruition, including daunting opposition. What seemed like a simple and clever idea at first quickly meets many, many “No”s. The naysayers and critiques are heavy and painful at first and quickly become overwhelming until “No”s in a dizzying variety of typefaces litter the page. But when she decides to solicit feedback, at first reluctantly, she becomes curious about her idea and how the “No”s might help it along, turning 1,000 “No”s into one big, brilliant “Yes.” The message is straightforward without being heavy-handed: Even though feedback can be difficult to hear, it ultimately leads to positive results. The black-and-white line-drawn illustrations have a Tim Burton vibe at the start, but they grow more colorful as the protagonist’s attitude changes and “No”s pour in, expanding the allegory visually. The final, humongous, multicolored “YES” is made up of all the myriad “No”s. Characters are uniformly depicted with paper-white skin, but hairstyle hints at racial diversity, and one character uses a wheelchair. This will surely find a home alongside similar favorites from the likes of Peter H. Reynolds and Kathryn Otoshi. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.3-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

Grit and imagination combine to turn “No” into a definite “Yes.” (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1919-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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