Parents seeking ways to discuss a loved one’s death with their children should find this touching tale, with its analogy of...

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

A CHILDREN'S STORY OF LOVE, LOSS, AND WHAT CAME NEXT

A boy finds a way to deal with his beloved grandfather’s death when he sees two birds separated on the subway in this debut picture book.

The difference between an unnamed child’s summers with his grandfather in a small Texas town and daily life in the city is huge. When the boy visits Pop, it’s his job to help load the delivery truck; after work, the two eat lunch at a cafe together. They are so much alike that the waitress calls them “birds of a feather.” After Pop dies, the boy goes to the funeral, but he knows it’s not his grandfather in the casket “because he didn’t smile at me once.” Angry, hurt, and sad, the boy doesn’t know how to cope with his grief until he sees two birds trapped on the subway. When the pair become separated at different stops, he identifies with the one still on the train, recognizing her fear and the loneliness in himself. After she escapes, he wonders how she will cope—but realizes that even if she can’t find her mate, life is still a big adventure. Crice captures the complexity of a child’s feelings with expert precision, taking a tough experience and exploring it with honesty, never flinching from the hard emotions. The soft-colored pencil and acrylic images by debut illustrator Rakatansky—which mostly show landscapes, cityscapes, and animals—match the story’s gentle tone perfectly.

Parents seeking ways to discuss a loved one’s death with their children should find this touching tale, with its analogy of lost birds, useful in grappling with a difficult topic.

Pub Date: May 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9996853-0-3

Page Count: 27

Publisher: DoveTale Press

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Positively refreshing.

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HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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