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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Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it.


From the How Do Dinosaurs…? series

A guide to better behavior—at home, on the playground, in class, and in the library.

Serving as a sort of overview for the series’ 12 previous exercises in behavior modeling, this latest outing opens with a set of badly behaving dinos, identified in an endpaper key and also inconspicuously in situ. Per series formula, these are paired to leading questions like “Does she spit out her broccoli onto the floor? / Does he shout ‘I hate meat loaf!’ while slamming the door?” (Choruses of “NO!” from young audiences are welcome.) Midway through, the tone changes (“No, dinosaurs don’t”), and good examples follow to the tune of positive declarative sentences: “They wipe up the tables and vacuum the floors. / They share all the books and they never slam doors,” etc. Teague’s customary, humongous prehistoric crew, all depicted in exact detail and with wildly flashy coloration, fill both their spreads and their human-scale scenes as their human parents—no same-sex couples but some are racially mixed, and in one the man’s the cook—join a similarly diverse set of sibs and other children in either disapprobation or approving smiles. All in all, it’s a well-tested mix of oblique and prescriptive approaches to proper behavior as well as a lighthearted way to play up the use of “please,” “thank you,” and even “I’ll help when you’re hurt.”

Formulaic but not stale…even if it does mine previous topical material rather than expand it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-36334-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A visually striking, compelling recollection.


The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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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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