Inspirational for young naturalists.

READ REVIEW

THE BUG GIRL

A TRUE STORY

A fourth grade girl tells how her mother helped her change from being bullied to being celebrated—for her love of bugs.

Sophia’s voice is conversational as she relates how she became entranced by butterflies in a butterfly conservatory at the age of 2½. She keeps the same tone throughout, whether she is mentioning that bugs are important to the world or that she had a thriving bug club until, in first grade, all the other children lost interest in bugs. Explaining that at first she doesn't mind being ridiculed by classmates for her entomological enthusiasm, Sophia matter-of-factly delivers the chilling, game-changing anecdote: She brought a grasshopper to school one day, and “they knocked that beautiful grasshopper off my shoulder and stomped on it till it was dead.” She went home and cried, and her single mother offered her comfort but apparently did not report the bullying to the school. Eventually, her mother does come up with a brilliant solution: she contacts entomologists for help. After emails and postcards pour in, Canadian media outlets pick up the story. Sophia modestly asserts her goal: “I wanted to get the word out that it’s okay to love bugs.” The excellent, loosely outlined watercolor illustrations depict Sophia and her mom as white with background racial diversity, and they complement the gentle textual humor. Final pages offer further, mostly accurate bug information. (Many would disagree that there are only “two major types of arthropods.”)

Inspirational for young naturalists. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-64593-1

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter

MALALA'S MAGIC PENCIL

The latest of many picture books about the young heroine from Pakistan, this one is narrated by Malala herself, with a frame that is accessible to young readers.

Malala introduces her story using a television show she used to watch about a boy with a magic pencil that he used to get himself and his friends out of trouble. Readers can easily follow Malala through her own discovery of troubles in her beloved home village, such as other children not attending school and soldiers taking over the village. Watercolor-and-ink illustrations give a strong sense of setting, while gold ink designs overlay Malala’s hopes onto her often dreary reality. The story makes clear Malala’s motivations for taking up the pen to tell the world about the hardships in her village and only alludes to the attempt on her life, with a black page (“the dangerous men tried to silence me. / But they failed”) and a hospital bracelet on her wrist the only hints of the harm that came to her. Crowds with signs join her call before she is shown giving her famous speech before the United Nations. Toward the end of the book, adult readers may need to help children understand Malala’s “work,” but the message of holding fast to courage and working together is powerful and clear.

An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter . (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-31957-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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