Conveying communal wisdom and collective hope, this volume honors reading and knowledge as staples for a proverbial lifeboat.

VESSEL OF PROMISES

A BOOKISH FABLE

A familiar flood myth retold as a contemporary allegory.

Upon waking from her dream of an impending deluge, an old woman resolves to preserve life’s “promises” and ferry them to safety. She first repairs her roof, then gathers complementary “pairs” of promises based on relative polarity: fast/slow, young/old. When read aloud, the lyrical resonance suggests spectrums of interpretive potential within each rhyming couplet: Imagine what other enduring promises might exist in between “tall ones that could reach the tops of trees” and “short ones that could balance on your knees.” Equally intriguing are the verbal and visual metaphoric suggestions; might the “slowly… slowly…” rising river reference environmental phenomena and climate change? Or perhaps it alludes to shifting cultural tides that threaten the gradual erosion of memory, thereby resulting in passive acceptance of the status quo (remember the frog who does not notice itself being boiled alive)? The concertina binding, with two long, neatly folded tableaux (one on either side of the connected leaves) rather than individual double-page spreads, reinforces thematic flow, both facilitating fluid page turns and inviting dynamic or meditative interactions with the narrative. Textured abstractions—some splotchy, others splintered or spliced—represent the unrelenting downpour and submerged landscapes, while sporadic raindrops simultaneously outline the eyes of creatures large and small, evoking Noah’s Ark. Thanks to its keeper, this sturdy houseboat-cum-temple holds its own amid turbulence and uncertainty, sheltering the bookish promises cradled within.

Conveying communal wisdom and collective hope, this volume honors reading and knowledge as staples for a proverbial lifeboat. (author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Picture book/novelty. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-51387-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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