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A well-illustrated story of grief, compassion, friendship, and community, told with tender charm.

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Friends help when a grieving knitter adversely affects the weather in Wolfson’s picture book.

In this lovely, deceptively simple work about the death of a loved one, Aunty Jane knits while she cooks, takes a walk, and goes shopping. At night, she knits as Uncle Wally sits next to her in his comfy chair. When Wally dies, the yarn spooling out from Jane’s needles is dark gray. Soon “most of the town was covered in the fierce-looking storm Aunty was knitting up” as her “needles hissed like the wind.” Her young friends, Naomi and Xavier, and others in town comfort her, speaking of Wally and wearing colorful clothes she’d knitted for them. The expressive characters are rendered in vivid pen and ink, with illustrations that include a child using a wheelchair and a diverse mix of skin tones; lavish patterns and textures give fabrics and settings a sumptuous, three-dimensional look. When Aunty Jane can smile again—a mischievous cat named Stitch helps—bright-colored yarn begins appearing among dark clouds. The result, “perhaps Aunty Jane’s most spectacular knitted creation ever,” is celebratory, but not a glib resolution; it’s a segue to a moving coda that makes clear that a lost loved one will always be missed but that there can be room for happiness.

A well-illustrated story of grief, compassion, friendship, and community, told with tender charm.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-03-914411-8

Page Count: 29

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

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

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 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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