Intelligently and sympathetically demonstrates that children have complex emotional lives too.

JENNY MEI IS SAD

Jenny Mei may smile and joke around, but her best friend knows that inside, she is sad.

A small, unnamed Black child with two Afro puffs describes best friend Jenny Mei (who presents Asian): a girl who can smile, share, and make people laugh even though she’s sad. But when Jenny Mei has a bad day and acts out in school, the narrator is there for her in all the ways a friend can be: waiting after school while Jenny talks with the teacher, being a good listener, or just being together—with popsicles. After a quiet walk, a game of kick the rock, and a quick exhibition of blue and purple tongues, Jenny Mei begins to cry. But our narrator is there with her, “for fun and not-fun and everything in between.” The multiplicity of emotions and depth of friendship are conveyed by Subisak’s deceptively simple text (averaging one sentence per spread) and whimsical, attentive illustrations. The characters are drawn with black outlines, colorful outfits, and dots for eyes that seem to say it all. And while the reason Jenny Mei is sad is never explicitly stated, subtle clues will give perceptive readers an idea of what’s happening in her life. Focus, however, stays on what is most important: the quiet support of a friend who understands.

Intelligently and sympathetically demonstrates that children have complex emotional lives too. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53771-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side.

TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE KID

A boy gets an unusual payoff after wishing on a star.

Sitting outside one night, Clyde notices a lone star in the sky. He recites the “Star light, star bright” incantation and makes a wish. Disappointed when it doesn’t come true, he returns home. But later, while he’s asleep, the star he’d wished on sneaks into his bedroom and makes a wish on him! Startled awake, Clyde wonders how to grant Star’s wish. He shares some ideas (and actual objects) with her: a game of checkers, tent camping, tossing a Frisbee, and walkie-talkies. Star likes them, but they’re not her wishes; Clyde confides there’s no one to enjoy them with—and wonders if perhaps Star had wished for a friend. No one will be surprised at what Clyde next confesses to Star. The pair winds up playing together and becoming besties. This is a sweet but thin and predictable story about making friends. Still, readers will appreciate meeting feisty, celestial Star. The author reaches for humor using colloquialisms (“freaked out”), and kids will like the comfortable familiarity that develops between the cheery protagonists. The colored-pencil illustrations are rendered in a limited palette of mostly dark blues and purples, appropriate to the nighttime setting. Star is a luminous, pale yellow with a white topknot and has a star-dappled aura around her. Purple-pj’d Clyde wears bunny slippers and presents White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-17132-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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