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Perfectly suited to be shared with both those of the culture and those looking on.

On Soul Food Sunday, one of the youngest members of the family tags along with Granny to learn what goes into making the hallmark foods of Sunday dinner.

An African American family gathers for their weekly Soul Food Sunday dinner. One of the youngest grandchildren finally gets to help in the kitchen and dons the jacket of his late grandfather’s Army chef’s uniform for the special day. Nearby, a picture of his grandfather seems to look on approvingly. Granny and her helper shred cheese and clean and prep the various greens and meats. With each step, the narrator gives it his all in a rhythmic, pleasingly repetitive text, and Granny warmly approves. After the food begins to cook, Granny takes a nap, and her little helper goes back to the kitchen and prepares a pitcher of sweet tea all by himself. After all, as Granny says about each item they’ve prepped together, the greens, the mac ’n’ cheese, and the meat, “Unless sweet tea is on the table, it’s not Soul Food Sunday.” The lively, graffitilike illustrations are slightly reminiscent of the 1990s, seen in grill master Roscoe Ray’s flip-top sunglasses, Granny’s goddess braids, and the narrator’s high-top fade. There are times, however, when the light, spindly type fails to hold up against such robust illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Perfectly suited to be shared with both those of the culture and those looking on. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4771-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Affectionate and affirming.

Today co-anchor Melvin pens an ode to the father-son bond.

A dad lists all the things he admires about his son, including the boy’s willingness to face his fears (such as diving into the swimming pool) and his ability to “make people laugh, / bring joy to folks.” The child shows “kindness and grace” when apologizing for a mistake, and he perseveres in the face of failure (“They can’t all be wins”). The boy has an inquisitive mind (“You ask questions and investigate. / Who knows what you’ll find?”), and he’s a caring big brother who loves building sand castles with his younger sibling. Ultimately, the father salutes his son for the person he is “through good times and bad, / no matter what.” Melvin conveys the joy of watching a child grow into a strong, capable adult while maintaining a sense of childlike wonder. Rather than focusing on traditionally masculine activities or attitudes, he celebrates qualities such as emotional intelligence and a nurturing spirit. While the text on occasion dips into sentimentality, overall Melvin delivers a sound message. Cloud’s digital illustrations depict the family and their diverse community with expressive faces, capturing their myriad emotions and lending the book an exuberant tone. The father presents Black, his partner appears white, and the tan-skinned children are biracial; all are unnamed.

Affectionate and affirming. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063206137

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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