CIRCUS GIRL

Bogacki’s simple, visual reminiscence about the beginnings of a boyhood friendship is, like his earlier picture-book memoir My First Garden (2000), nuanced and subtle. The first-person narrator recalls a marvelous week from childhood: a circus caravan comes to his small town, bringing a temporary classmate, the young acrobat that he remembers only as Circus Girl. The Circus Girl befriends both the narrator and Tim, “the smallest one in the class,” whose isolation from his classmates has been the one thing that anyone knew about him. Circus Girl’s impressive ability to balance while standing on an elephant and on a pony matches the seemingly easy grace with which she makes friends for herself and in the process creates friendship between the two boys. Expressive, gently hued drawings in what could be pastel and colored pencil recreate the moments in the narrative in irregularly shaped frames across each two-page opening. The frames, in soft focus as if remembered across time and distance, fill the space, each an impressionistic glimpse through a window of memory. Young readers will need a measure of patience to mine the depths of this quiet tale, but multiple readings will turn up new observations. Some will find it frustrating that the eponymous character remains nameless in the narrator’s retelling—she serves only as the catalyst for the friendship between the narrator and Tim. Still, her brief sojourn in the boys’ lives has a lasting effect. Understated and touching. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2001

ISBN: 0-374-31291-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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A feel-good picture book and a great reminder that classic princess roles can be reimagined to embrace inclusion, diversity,...

NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE

A little black girl holds true to her dream that on the theater stage you can be whatever you want—even if it’s Snow White.

Tameika is a bubbly, outgoing singer and dancer who loves the stage. She has played various roles, such as a cucumber, a space cowgirl, and a dinosaur, but never a princess. This charming tale tackles the complex subject of biases around race and body image when Tameika overhears her classmates’ whispers: “She can’t be Snow White”; “She’s much too chubby”; “And she’s too brown.” Tameika goes on a journey of self-acceptance as she grapples with her feelings about wanting to be a princess. Glenn’s playful, animation-inspired digital art will enchant readers as it immerses them in Tameika’s vivid imagination. New fans may seek out her previous work in Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow’s Mommy’s Khimar (2018) and Michelle Meadows’ Brave Ballerina (2019). The vibrant colors and active compositions enhance the story, reflecting Tameika’s changing emotions and her interactions with her parents, whose positive affirmations help give Tameika the courage and self-love to remember how much joy she gets from performing. For kids who like to imagine themselves being anything they want to be, it is reassuring to be reminded that it’s not exterior looks that matter but the princess within.

A feel-good picture book and a great reminder that classic princess roles can be reimagined to embrace inclusion, diversity, and body positivity. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-279860-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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