Build empathy and self-understanding with this simple, compassionate book.

MEESHA MAKES FRIENDS

From the Big Bright Feelings series

Meesha can make lots of things, but she hasn’t yet learned to make friends.

Meesha can make “pictures out of numbers…and pictures out of sounds” and sometimes “out of both.” But making friends eludes her. She tries, but she doesn’t know what to say or when to say it. Discouraged, she decides to create her own friends, using paints, scissors, and glue. Her new friends are fun and easy to be around. One day, her mom tells her they are going to a party. Meesha is worried. And at first, her fears come true. The party is “noisy, chaotic, and unpredictable,” and she doesn’t know how to join in. So she finds a quiet corner and begins creating friends of her own again. But this time, her created friends lead to making friends with other children. A grayscale color scheme with judicious use of reds and blues makes visual Meesha’s experiences of isolation and an expanding social world. Expressive faces and energetic lines compose scenes children can absorb and make meaning of while they listen. Without labels or categories, this story puts words and pictures to feelings and traits that are difficult to articulate and explain, making this book helpful both for children who can relate to Meesha’s experience and for those who don’t understand such feelings. Meesha is a brown girl among a multiracial cast of children.

Build empathy and self-understanding with this simple, compassionate book. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0519-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Sweet, good-hearted fun.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE SOUR GRAPE

From the Food Group series

A recovering curmudgeon narrates life lessons in the latest entry in the punny Food Group series.

Grape wasn’t always sour, as they explain in this origin story. Grape’s arc starts with an idyllic childhood within “a close-knit bunch” in a community of “about three thousand.” The sweet-to-sour switch begins when Grape plans an elaborate birthday party to which no one shows up. Going from “sweet” to “bitter,” “snappy,” and, finally, “sour,” Grape “scowled so much that my face got all squishy.” Minor grudges become major. An aha moment occurs when a run of bad luck makes Grape three hours late for a meetup with best friend Lenny, who’s just as acidic as Grape. After the irate lemon storms off, Grape recognizes their own behavior in Lenny. Alone, Grape begins to enjoy the charms of a lovely evening. Once home, the fruit browses through a box of memorabilia, discovering that the old birthday party invitation provided the wrong date! “I realized nobody’s perfect. Not even me.” Remaining pages reverse the downturn as Grape observes that minor setbacks are easily weathered when the emphasis is on talking, listening, and working things out. Oswald’s signature illustrations depict Grape and company with big eyes and tiny limbs. The best sight gag occurs early: Grape’s grandparents are depicted as elegant raisins. The lessons are as valuable as in previous outings, and kids won’t mind the slight preachiness. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, good-hearted fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-304541-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more