Practical and empowering for young ones learning how to emotionally attend to themselves and others.




From the I Am... series

In the latest I Am… series installment by yoga teacher Verde and illustrator Reynolds, a child describes how to share love with those struggling with hard emotions.

A thin, light-brown–skinned kid with blue and pink hair spots another child “going through a storm / of hurt and unfairness, of anger and sadness”—how should they respond? With hands on their heart, the candy-haired protagonist “find[s] the answer: I have compassion… / I am love.” The gentle narrative follows a simple formula in which different ways of attending to others are named along with a simple statement of what love can be: “Love is comfort”; “Love is effort”; “Love is tiny gestures.” Emphasizing Verde’s common themes of mindfulness and emotional presence, the main character demonstrates expressions of love ranging from keeping their own “mind and body safe and healthy” to careful listening to others. Supporting characters in this jewel-toned meditation include a white kid with long blond hair, a black child with a curly purple afropuff, and a tan-skinned youth with short black hair and a colorful taqiyah. To elaborate on the benefits of “opening and expanding” the heart (both literally and emotionally), Verde provides extensive backmatter, including yoga poses and a heart meditation. These addenda enrich the narrative and provide useful context for the relationship skills outlined in the text.

Practical and empowering for young ones learning how to emotionally attend to themselves and others. (Picture book. 5-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3726-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2019

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Precious—but timely and comforting all the same.


From the Hedgehog and Tortoise Story series

The two creatures who fulfilled each other’s yearning for physical contact in The Hug (2019) find alternative ways to connect in a time of social distancing.

Blushing and smiling and looking every bit as sweet as they did in their original meet-cute, Hedgehog and Tortoise respond to Owl’s reassurance that “there are lots of ways to show someone you love them” by standing on opposing pages and sending signals, letters, dances, air kisses, and songs across the gutter. Demonstrating their mutual love and friendship, they regard each other fondly across the gap through sun and storm, finally gesturing air hugs beneath a rainbow of colors and stars. “They could not touch. / They could not hug. // But they both knew / that they were loved.” In line with the minimalist narrative and illustrations there is no mention of the enforced separation’s cause nor, aside from the titular conjunction, any hint of its possible duration. Still, its core affirmation is delivered in a simple, direct, unmistakable way, and if the thematic connection with the previous outing seems made to order for a marketing opportunity, it does address a widespread emotional need in young (and maybe not so young) audiences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 78% of actual size.)

Precious—but timely and comforting all the same. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-5713-6558-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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How needed, how refreshing to see a black girl learn to appreciate herself—lovely and informative.


A little girl learns to love and care for her hair.

Mack, young and black, does not love her hair. As a result of teasing, she tries to hide it. But Mack does love her neighbor Miss Tillie. Miss Tillie’s house has been a safe space since Mack was a toddler. So, naturally, Mack seeks refuge in Miss Tillie after being bullied by a classmate who states as fact that “Mack’s hair is always a mess.” West Indian Miss Tillie gives Mack a glass of sorrel and listens as Mack tells her about the long-term mockery she’s endured about her hair. Though dark-skinned Mack’s mother also appears to be black, she doesn’t know how to care for her daughter’s hair, and Mack asks Miss Tillie for help. Miss Tillie teaches Mack that her hair is like a garden: “And like every good garden, it must be cared for, every day.” The folk art–style illustrations lend this story an anytime, anyplace quality that leaves readers free to focus on the content. Although the text placement and type may occasionally distract, the illustrations evoke emotion, and endpapers showing different hairstyles on black girls of varying hues are especially well-done.

How needed, how refreshing to see a black girl learn to appreciate herself—lovely and informative. (caring for black hair, recipes) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-0923-4

Page Count: 37

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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