A clever bit of conflict resolution, nonviolent and broadly applicable.

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HARRY AND CLARE'S AMAZING STAYCATION

On a rainy week of vacation, Harry finds a way to loosen his bossy big sister’s grip on playtime scenarios.

On Monday, the two go to Mars, “which looked a lot like the family room, except for the volcanoes.” Because Harry sinks in quicksand, Clare eats his snack. On following days she not only gets to be race car driver, pirate queen, and school principal, but she appropriates his snacks again. When the penny finally drops, he starts stockpiling small treats in his pocket—so that when skies clear and the children hit the jungle (“It looked a lot like the park, except for the vines and wild animals”), he’s in a position to win concessions from his snackless sib: “I’ll share. But I think the treasure is in a cave under a mountain.” Says Clare, “Okay. But there’s still a monster octopus in the cave.” Staunton’s tongue-in-cheek text displays both great respect for the imagination of children and affection for his characters. In simply drawn line-and-color illustrations, Song artfully blends ordinary household and playground details into adventuresome settings until at last steering the pair homeward past “prehistoric park-bench dinosaur skeletons” and deadly “squirrel sharks.” The children are black-haired and light-skinned; the “Kimono dragons” they ride hint at Asian ancestry.

A clever bit of conflict resolution, nonviolent and broadly applicable. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77049-827-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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I LOVE MY COLORFUL NAILS

From the Égalité series

A timely look at self-expression.

Kindergarten-age Ben paints his fingernails because he loves their colorful appeal. Unfortunately, not everyone does. While walking to school one morning, Ben is harassed by two other boys: “Painting your nails is for girls. You’re a girl! You’re a girl!” Ben initially internalizes the negative feelings but eventually tells his parents. Although Ben’s father shows solidarity by painting his nails as well, this does not stop the bullying. Ben sadly kowtows to gender conformity and paints his nails only on the weekend, although his father continues to pick him up after school with painted nails. On Ben’s birthday, his entire class surprises him with painted nails, and at recess, they do it again. End of story! Educators and caregivers should prepare themselves for the barrage of logical questions that are sure to follow: Why didn’t Ben’s parents talk to his teacher about the bullying? What happened the next day? Did the bullies learn anything? Books about gender nonconformity are needed, as are titles that celebrate general messages of acceptance, but this story is too superficial and the ending too slapdash to be worth the attention. Gusti’s illustrations, which echo the stylings of Jules Pfeiffer, do little to enhance the text. Most characters appear white, while darker-skinned characters are reduced to background filler only. The book is also available in Spanish.

Skip it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-84-17123-59-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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