For young readers who need help believing in themselves and for those with friends who do the same.

I AM COURAGE

A BOOK OF RESILIENCE

From the I Am... series

The sixth in a series by Verde and Reynolds that empowers children to be their best selves.

A child with brown skin and straight black hair guides readers through a self-affirming profession of true courage. Far from presenting a perfect display of unwavering bravery, the child reveals that they tumble, waver, doubt, and fear all along the journey of a bike ride (read: life) when faced with obstacles like a dark path, a bridge over a ravine, even a scary dog. The child believes in their own strength and resilience to keep going. That resilience takes visual form in a flame icon on flags that the child shares with friends, a Black child with close-cropped natural hair and a White child with pink hair, helping them to find their own strength. Thus, the child emphasizes the role of friends in nurturing this flame, leaning on one other and sharing stories about scary, hard things. The child describes moving forward, taking a breath, digging deep, finding their center when things are tough—all crucial parts of social/emotional development and growing up. A vivid array of vibrant backgrounds evoke the range of moods experienced by the children, who themselves are drawn as distinct individuals with expressive faces. The text evolves from singular to plural pronouns, ending with the declarations: “We are strong. We are capable. We are important. / We are courage. // And we are triumphant.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

For young readers who need help believing in themselves and for those with friends who do the same. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4646-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available.

THE LITTLE GHOST WHO WAS A QUILT

A ghost learns to appreciate his differences.

The little ghost protagonist of this title is unusual. He’s a quilt, not a lightweight sheet like his parents and friends. He dislikes being different despite his mom’s reassurance that his ancestors also had unconventional appearances. Halloween makes the little ghost happy, though. He decides to watch trick-or-treaters by draping over a porch chair—but lands on a porch rail instead. A mom accompanying her daughter picks him up, wraps him around her chilly daughter, and brings him home with them! The family likes his looks and comforting warmth, and the little ghost immediately feels better about himself. As soon as he’s able to, he flies out through the chimney and muses happily that this adventure happened only due to his being a quilt. This odd but gently told story conveys the importance of self-respect and acceptance of one’s uniqueness. The delivery of this positive message has something of a heavy-handed feel and is rushed besides. It also isn’t entirely logical: The protagonist could have been a different type of covering; a blanket, for instance, might have enjoyed an identical experience. The soft, pleasing illustrations’ palette of tans, grays, white, black, some touches of color, and, occasionally, white text against black backgrounds suggest isolation, such as the ghost feels about himself. Most humans, including the trick-or-treating mom and daughter, have beige skin. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 66.2% of actual size.)

Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6447-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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