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BROWN IS BEAUTIFUL

Though the story likely won’t linger, this brilliant tapestry of browns may spark discussions about identity and nature.

Brown is everywhere.

Holding a camera and on the lookout for all things brown, a brown-skinned child goes on a hike with their grandparents while their parents prepare for the arrival of a new sibling. As the text points out, brown can be found everywhere in nature, from the ants that carry heavy loads to the “mother bear protecting her young” to “a wrinkled maple leaf.” Attributing strengths such as wisdom and kindness to the color, the child finds their own identity in it and hopes to pass those traits on to their newly born sibling. The story closes with a page from the child’s scrapbook, featuring photos, leaves, and other objects commemorating the day. Though, as this story makes clear, brown is beautiful—a fact underscored by a slew of books celebrating the skin tones of children of color—the rhymes feel cumbersome and sometimes disjointed, and the text may not stay with children. Still, there’s a warmth to the illustrations, which feature luminous shades of brown spilling across the pages, and the message is sound, using the natural world to convey the beauty of brown. The appended scrapbooking activity is a wonderful way to start conversations about the colors of the natural world. In an author’s note, Kelkar, who is Indian America, discusses growing to embrace her brown skin. (The book was reviewed digitally.)

Though the story likely won’t linger, this brilliant tapestry of browns may spark discussions about identity and nature. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-38952-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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WOO HOO! YOU'RE DOING GREAT!

WOO-HOO! This is the perfect way to foster healthy self-esteem in little ones.

What’s better than a cheerleading chicken?

Are you ever blue, unsure, tired, or overworked? Do you ever feel lost or overwhelmed? This uplifting book, expressed in delightful, jaunty verse, explains how to lift your spirits pronto: What you need is a booster chicken telling you’re doing great even when you’re not so confident, as when you’re learning or practicing a new skill, for instance. Your feathered champion will be right there, encouraging you all the way, with a loud “WOO HOO!” that’ll keep you going and remove any doubt you’re super terrific. But what if your cheerful chick errs and doesn’t do what it set out to do? Don’t worry—your cheery chicken just needs a reminder that everyone makes mistakes. That alone is a pep talk, enhanced by the wisdom that making mistakes allows everyone to learn and demonstrate they did their best. So forgive yourself, chickens! But the best thing is…instead of relying on someone else—like a chicken—to strengthen your ego, say a generous daily “WOO HOO!” to yourself. This riotous book hits all the right notes and does so succinctly and hilariously. The energetic, comical illustrations, in Boynton’s signature style, will elicit giggles and go far to make the book’s important point. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

WOO-HOO! This is the perfect way to foster healthy self-esteem in little ones. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-316-48679-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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