The poetry here is well-done, and although there is no real topical or stylistic cohesion, the assortment offers something...

This collection of 20 poems inspired by the poet’s volunteer work in a kindergarten lunchroom is united by authorship; entries address a variety of topics and are expressed in multiple styles.

The subject matter is generally accessible and of interest, including family vignettes (“The Snow Is Melting”), feelings (“afterschool”), animals (“a spider way of thinking,” “Owl Secrets”), and toys (“My Cars Never Sleep”). Length and format vary too: “Little Yellow House” is only nine words long; others have several stanzas. Not all utilize traditional capitalization and punctuation. Some layouts are straightforward, left-justified and single- or double-spaced; others feature irregular spaces between lines or between phrases on the same line but are not quite concrete poetry. Figurative language is especially effective in “The Envelope,” a litany of ways a child thinks of their mother. Most read well out loud, with appropriate scansion and without the pitfall of forced rhyme. Derby’s sophisticated illustrations, done in watercolor, digital collage, and India ink, have a subdued tone and leave room for the imagination; some are simple, small vignettes on white space, while others feature gently washy backgrounds.

The poetry here is well-done, and although there is no real topical or stylistic cohesion, the assortment offers something for readers with varying preferences. (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77306-095-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019


Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40.

From two Nobel Peace Prize winners, an invitation to look past sadness and loneliness to the joy that surrounds us.

Bobbing in the wake of 2016’s heavyweight Book of Joy (2016), this brief but buoyant address to young readers offers an earnest insight: “If you just focus on the thing that is making / you sad, then the sadness is all you see. / But if you look around, you will / see that joy is everywhere.” López expands the simply delivered proposal in fresh and lyrical ways—beginning with paired scenes of the authors as solitary children growing up in very different circumstances on (as they put it) “opposite sides of the world,” then meeting as young friends bonded by streams of rainbow bunting and going on to share their exuberantly hued joy with a group of dancers diverse in terms of age, race, culture, and locale while urging readers to do the same. Though on the whole this comes off as a bit bland (the banter and hilarity that characterized the authors’ recorded interchanges are absent here) and their advice just to look away from the sad things may seem facile in view of what too many children are inescapably faced with, still, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the world more qualified to deliver such a message than these two. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-48423-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022


Anemic messages of hope from an iconic activist.

Civil rights legend Bridges encourages young people to persevere.

After becoming the face of school integration at just 6 years old, Bridges continued to further her legacy by visiting schools across the U.S. Over the past 25 years, she has received letters from thousands of students with “ideas and concerns that ran deeper than we grown-ups gave them credit for.” In her latest book for kids, Bridges responds to notes from children grappling with political and social crises, including anti-Asian racism, climate change, and gun violence. The issues that matter to young Americans come alive in Cabuay’s energetic illustrations, which make deft use of color and texture. On one spread, a short, brown-skinned child named Tala, bullied for being short, strides confidently down a school hallway past classmates who whisper and laugh. In the accompanying letter, Tala talks about drawing strength from Bridges’ bravery; Bridges’ reply emphasizes that “it’s okay to be different because what really matters is your heart and what’s inside!” The correspondences are brief, barely skimming the surface, and Bridges’ messages are too general to have a genuine impact. Backmatter, which includes a glossary with pronunciation guides, is helpful but does little to connect Bridges’ historic contributions to the issues young people are facing today. This picture book’s superficial discussion of important topics doesn’t live up to Bridges’ advocacy or Cabuay’s dynamic art.

Anemic messages of hope from an iconic activist. (more information on Bridges) (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781338753912

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

Close Quickview