MARY HAD A LITTLE PLAN

From the Mary Had a Little Glam series , Vol. 2

Fun and inspiring.

Mary’s “little plan” becomes a major green community project with some planning and assistance.

Mary, a Black girl who wears a nest complete with a family of birds on her head, passes an abandoned lot full of trash and promptly gets an idea for “a cleanup and an overhaul.” She draws a design and, with a caregiver’s help, hauls in paint and decorations and collects donations of flowers, tools, and wood from local shops. After a half-day of picking up trash, though, Mary feels overwhelmed. Prompted by a spider who sits beside her, Mary is inspired to ask friends for help. A diverse group of children and adults joins her efforts to clean up, weed, plant, water, paint a wall, decorate, and set up a free “nook for books.” Even the birds living on Mary’s head help out. Mary and her friends marvel at their neighborhood improvement: “It showed what love can do.” The rhyming text is organized in well-paced couplets that read effortlessly and offer an occasional nod to other nursery rhymes. The type includes words set in a whimsical font in colors that complement Brantley-Newton’s lively, playful illustrations. Mary and her friends have loads of personality, and readers will be charmed by the ingenuity, dedication, and community spirit they display. A light read, this story is a glowing example of the magic that results when a thoughtful initiative receives support. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Fun and inspiring. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3303-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

I JUST WANT TO SAY GOOD NIGHT

If Black Lives Matter, they deserve more specificity than this.

A lushly illustrated picture book with a troubling message.

Little Lala walks with her father after his successful day of fishing. When Mama calls her home for bed, a host of “good night”s delays her: to the bird, the monkey, and even the rock. As Lala wanders through her village in the darkening twilight, readers appreciate its expansive beauty and Lala’s simple joys. Although it’s been artfully written and richly illustrated by an award-winning author of many multicultural stories, this book has problems that overshadow its beauty. “African veld” sets the story in southern Africa, but its vague locale encourages Americans to think that distinctions among African countries don’t matter. Lala wears braids or locks that stick straight up, recalling the 19th-century pickaninny, and her inconsistent skin color ranges from deep ebony like her father’s to light brown. Shadows may cause some of these differences, but if it weren’t for her identifiable hair, readers might wonder if the same child wanders from page to page. Perhaps most striking of all is Lala’s bedtime story: not an African tale but an American classic. While this might evoke nostalgia in some readers, it also suggests that southern Africa has no comparably great bedtime books for Lala, perhaps in part because American children’s literature dominates the world market.

If Black Lives Matter, they deserve more specificity than this. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-17384-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

I AM A PEACEFUL GOLDFISH

A soothing, logical, and playful introduction to mindfulness for young listeners.

What can you do when things go wrong?

Two children contemplate different ways to calm themselves down in this straightforward introduction to breathing, relaxation, and mindfulness. The younger, White-presenting child follows suit when the older, brown-skinned child proposes imaginative calming techniques. They picture themselves as various animals (goldfish, elephants, dragons) and objects (pinwheels, dandelions, wind chimes, flowers), inhaling and exhaling, that make deep breathing and calming down concrete and easy to comprehend. Simplified, whimsical illustrations add a touch of humor and a wink to the 1970s while preventing the story from becoming cloying, as soft, gentle instructions help the characters (and listeners) to understand some of the mechanics behind how to intentionally breathe and decompress. While not necessarily something that children will pick up unless they are learning about practicing mindfulness, this informative title has charm and warmth and will give youngsters some ideas as to how to self-regulate and manage their feelings as they learn to be aware of their breathing. Endpapers feature a multiracial array of children’s faces expressing different emotions.

A soothing, logical, and playful introduction to mindfulness for young listeners. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77164-637-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Greystone Kids

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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