A guiding star of hope to readers who have lost a loved one and a stellar map that values Indigenous knowledge.

THE FOREVER SKY

Two young boys observing the night sky remember their relatives who have passed away.

After grandmother Nooko’s passing, Uncle tells stories to Niigaanii that help explain where she has gone in the hope that he will “feel less sad.” While watching the sky one fall evening, Niigaanii shares some of these lessons with his younger brother, Bineshiinh, the most important of which is that Nooko’s spirit lives on in the stars. As the boys continue to gaze at the “Forever Sky,” they see “the stars form shapes”—constellations significant to Ojibwe people—and they see the Milky Way, or the Path of Souls, that leads to the spirit world. But the dancing lights they encounter on a “very special night” bring an even better surprise. Peacock (Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Anishinaabe Ojibwe) spins prose that feels both traditional and contemporary, providing a mirror for Indigenous readers raised among similar stories. Yet those unfamiliar with the Ojibwe cosmos will connect as well. Although rendered in a style all her own, astrophysicist/artist Lee’s (Lakota-Sioux) colorful, richly detailed illustrations recall the X-ray pictograph inspirations, elongated figures, and genre-content popularized by other Native American/First Nations painters. Astute readers will also notice the young brothers appear to wear shorts in some of the images, reinforcing present-day significance.

A guiding star of hope to readers who have lost a loved one and a stellar map that values Indigenous knowledge. (glossary) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68134-098-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

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DONOVAN'S BIG DAY

It may be his mothers’ wedding day, but it’s Donovan’s big day in Newman’s (Heather Has Two Mommies, 1989, etc.) latest picture book about queer family life. Centered on the child’s experience and refreshingly eschewing reference to controversy, the book emerges as a celebration of not only Mommy’s and Mama’s mutual love but progress toward equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Readers, however, don't know immediately know why it is “a very BIG day” for Donovan or what the “very BIG job” is that he has to do. In his affectionate, humorous gouache paintings with digital finish, Dutton cleverly includes clues in the form of family pictures in an earlier spread set inside their home, and then a later spread shows Donovan in a suit and placing a “little white satin box that Aunt Jennifer gave him” into his pocket, hinting toward his role as ring bearer. But it’s not until the third-to-last spread that he stands with his parents and hands “one shiny gold ring to Mommy [and] one shiny gold ring to Mama.” He, of course, gets to kiss the brides on the last page, lending a happily-ever-after sensibility to the end of this story about a family's new beginning. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-332-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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