Striking illustrations carry the load in this heartfelt story of parental absence.

WHEN FATHER COMES HOME

A young Korean boy’s feeling of longing is captured in this story of a father who works far away from his family.

“Will Father come home tomorrow?” asks June, a young Korean boy, of his mother. Curiously, a photo of the father dreamily transforms in the accompanying illustration into the shape of a goose flying across the sky. The next day, June and his older brother, Hyun, return from school, rushing into the arms of a goose dressed in a shirt and tie. Scenes of a happy family quickly pass by, with the affectionate father consistently depicted as an anthropomorphic goose. Soon enough, there is “a goodbye that happens often,” as June embraces his father before he flies away again. The author’s note reveals the Korean phrase, gireogi appa, which literally means goose dad. (Literal-minded readers befuddled by the goose symbolism might wish this information had appeared in an introduction.) Jung describes a lifestyle in which fathers work and live apart from their families to provide for their children’s education. The sacrifice, however noble, has consequences. Debut author/illustrator Jung captures the tender emotions through images in a warm color palette of peaches and browns. The writing, however, lacks cohesion, with limited flow between the pages. Still, the pain of missing a parent, which this book captures, is one many children will recognize.

Striking illustrations carry the load in this heartfelt story of parental absence. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35570-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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