As a parable of gender nonconformity this is too disjointed to work. Don’t bother.


A young boy accepts his unusual shadow.

In this world, everyone has a sentient, self-directed shadow that represents their innermost self. The White, floppy-haired main character explains that his shadow “is quite different, it’s not what you think.” Most of the shadows in his family are blue, but his is pink and “loves…princesses, fairies, and things ‘not for boys.’ ” In awkward rhyming couplets the narrator anxiously awaits the first day of school, where all of his apparently mixed-gender classmates seem to have blue shadows. When he's instructed (via a rhyming note) to wear his shadow’s “favourite thing” to school, he arrives in a tutu—then runs home when everyone stares at him. His father, a burly masculine triangle of a man and also White, dons a pink hooded dress in solidarity to escort his son back to school, and all is well. The central conceit of this story leaves many questions unsatisfyingly unanswered: Many girl-presenting classmates have blue shadows, so how are shadow colors assigned at birth? How can a person’s shadow have a discrete sexual orientation? Why use rhyming couplets when they lead to tortured constructions like “I join a small group, though in I don’t blend”? (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.8-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 20.8% of actual size.)

As a parable of gender nonconformity this is too disjointed to work. Don’t bother. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-648-72875-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Larrikin House/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.


Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A promising approach—but too underpowered to reach orbital velocity.



Young earthlings turn starry skies into playscapes in this first look at constellations.

On a page first glimpsed through a big die-cut hole in the front cover, Chagollan promises that stars “tell a thousand stories.” She goes on to describe brief scenarios in which residents of Earth interact with 15 Northern Hemisphere constellations. These range from Benjamin’s battle with a fierce dragon beneath Draco to a trio of unnamed ducklings who use the Swan to “find their way home.” Six further starry clusters bearing only labels are crowded into the final spread. In illustrations composed of thin white lines on matte black backgrounds (the characters formed by the stars are glossy), Aye colors significant stars yellow, connects them with dots, and encloses them in outlines of mythological figures that are as simply drawn as the animals and humans (and mermaid) below. As a practical introduction, this has little to offer budding sky watchers beyond a limited set of constellations—two, the Big Dipper and the Summer Triangle, are not official constellations at all but classified as asterisms—that are inconsistently labeled in Latin or English or both. Despite a closing invitation to go out and “find these stars in the sky,” the book provides no sky maps or verbal guidelines that would make that actually possible.

A promising approach—but too underpowered to reach orbital velocity. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63322-509-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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