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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Light, friendly, and not at all preachy—a gentle win for a kinder world.

ABCS OF KINDNESS

Rhyming couplets use the alphabet to simply explain the abstract concept of kindness.

Each letter of the alphabet stands for a word that adds nuance to the notion while line drawings of pink-cheeked stuffed animals—bear, bunny, elephant, mouse, lion, and giraffe—illustrate the behavior. The verses hint at exactly how to act kindly. Some are concrete: “Ii is for inviting everyone to play.” Some suggest attitudes that facilitate kindness. For example, “Bb is for believing things will be okay in the end!” and “Hh is for hope—tomorrow’s another day!” While many might take issue with the simplistic assertion that “Ee is for everyone—we are all the same,” taken as a whole, the book will lead even the youngest toddlers to the message. Organizationally, the book devotes one page each to 11 letters while 14 others share pages. “Zz is sleeping peacefully when your day of kindness is through” sprawls across a final double-page spread, showing all the animals fast asleep. Creating an ABC book is harder than this makes it look. The true test is what is chosen to represent Q, X, Y, and Z. “Quiet times,” “Yes I can,” and the aforementioned “zzz”s ably rise to the challenge. “Xx is for kisses” is a bit of a stretch but understandable. Pastel backgrounds, uncluttered design, and unforced rhymes keep the focus on the concept.

Light, friendly, and not at all preachy—a gentle win for a kinder world. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-12307-2

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in...

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NEW KID

From the New Kid series , Vol. 1

Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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