An affirmative, delightfully diverse overview of disabilities.

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JUST ASK!

BE DIFFERENT, BE BRAVE, BE YOU

Drawing on her experiences as a child with juvenile diabetes, the Supreme Court justice addresses kids’ curiosity about disability and illness.

“Each of us grows in our own way,” says Sonia, a Latina child based on the author, as she and her friends plant a garden. Just as each plant has a “different color, different shape, and different purpose,” kids are “all different too.” Encouraging curious readers to “JUST ASK,” Sonia and 11 friends introduce their respective disabilities and chronic illnesses—ranging from blindness to nut allergies—by asking such questions as “How do you use your senses?” and “Are you really good at something?” The kids’ matter-of-fact explanations blend strengths and difficulties. Bianca, who has dyslexia, “love[s] learning by doing things”; Manuel, who has ADHD, “can get frustrated when [they] really feel the need to move around even though [they’re] supposed to sit still.” Though the number of conditions may tax younger readers’ attention spans, kids with those conditions who “don’t feel ready to explain” will appreciate the text’s inclusiveness; as Sonia acknowledges, “Not everyone is comfortable answering questions about themselves.” Enlivening the familiar theme, López’s bold figures, vibrant colors, and close perspective welcome readers into a garden bursting with assorted blossoms, insects, and birds. Refreshingly, most characters present as kids of color of various heritages, ranging from black and Latinx to South and Southeast Asian. One presents white.

An affirmative, delightfully diverse overview of disabilities. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51412-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A resplendent masterpiece.

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DREAMERS

Based on her experience of leaving Mexico for the United States, Morales’ latest offers an immigrant’s tale steeped in hope, dreams, and love.

This story begins with a union between mother and son, with arms outstretched in the midst of a new beginning. Soon after, mother and son step on a bridge, expansive “like the universe,” to cross to the other side, to become immigrants. An ethereal city appears, enfolded in fog. The brown-skinned woman and her child walk through this strange new land, unwilling to speak, unaccustomed to “words unlike those of our ancestors.” But soon their journey takes them to the most marvelous of places: the library. In a series of stunning double-page spreads, Morales fully captures the sheer bliss of discovery as their imaginations take flight. The vibrant, surreal mixed-media artwork, including Mexican fabric, metal sheets, “the comal where I grill my quesadillas,” childhood drawings, and leaves and plants, represents a spectacular culmination of the author’s work thus far. Presented in both English and Spanish editions (the latter in Teresa Mlawer’s translation), equal in evocative language, the text moves with purpose. No word is unnecessary, each a deliberate steppingstone onto the next. Details in the art provide cultural markers specific to the U.S., but the story ultimately belongs to one immigrant mother and her son. Thanks to books and stories (some of her favorites are appended), the pair find their voices as “soñadores of the world.”

A resplendent masterpiece. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4055-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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