A hopeful, sadly necessary resource for children coping with a caregiver under medical treatment.

ANI'S LIGHT

Singh and Prabhat combine forces for an unflinchingly honest yet soothing book about a child and his mother’s illness.

Ani’s mother isn’t home, and he is stuck in the dark: “It’s dark. Still dark,” he says, even when morning comes and the sun peeps in through his window. His nani (maternal grandmother) offers him ice cream, but he says nothing. At school, “everything had lost its color.” He rebuffs his friends, seeking solace with his dog, Dobby. When his mother finally does come home, her hair is gone, but “nothing was dark anymore!” and the colors return to the world. Ani relays his fears to his mother—that she might never come back—and she reassures him: “As long as you let others love you…you will be okay.” Ani isn’t sure: “Even if you aren’t there?” he asks. “Yes,” she says. Singh, a professor of psychology, includes an author’s note that stresses the importance of honesty in the face of difficult situations, from illness to divorce to death. Prabhat’s illustrations set the story in India and deftly capture Ani’s darkness and lightness with both perspective and palette. Bird’s-eye views of Ani from directly overhead emphasize his powerlessness while a cloud of darkness that surrounds him effectively captures his unhappiness; a two-page spread detailing Ani’s despair is particularly powerful.

A hopeful, sadly necessary resource for children coping with a caregiver under medical treatment. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3277-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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The tips garnered here could be used to scare just about anyone, and for those scared of ghosts, at least your carpets will...

HOW TO SCARE A GHOST

From the How To... series

Reagan and Wildish continue their How to… series with this Halloween-themed title.

If you’ve ever had a hankering to scare a ghost, this handbook is what you need. In it, a pair of siblings shows readers “how to attract a ghost” (they like creepily carved pumpkins and glitter), identify a ghost (real ghosts “never, ever open doors”), and scare a ghost (making faces, telling scary stories). Also included is a warning not to go too far—a vacuum is over-the-top on the scary chart for ghosts. Once you’ve calmed your ghost again, it’s time to play (just not hide-and-seek or on a trampoline) and then decide on costumes for trick-or-treating. Your ghost will also need to learn Halloween etiquette (knocking instead of floating through doors). The title seems a little misleading considering only two spreads are dedicated to trying to scare a ghost, but the package as a whole is entertaining. Wildish’s digital cartoon illustrations are as bright as ever, and the brother and sister duo have especially expressive faces. Both are white-presenting, as are all the other characters except for some kids in the very last spread.

The tips garnered here could be used to scare just about anyone, and for those scared of ghosts, at least your carpets will be clean from all the vacuuming. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-0190-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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