A sweet read to share with loved ones.

WHAT WILL YOU BE?

Guided by Abuela, a young child discovers their potential.

“No, what will you reallybe?” a group of friends ask the young narrator in response to their imagining a future as an astronaut, a unicorn, or a clown. Without an answer, the child seeks the help of Abuela, who has been everything “under the Sun and the Moon.” Encouraged by Abuela to listen to their heart, the child quiets down and pays attention until the answers come. The pair then embarks on an exercise of the imagination as the child envisions becoming a builder of homes, a writer and painter of dreams, an explorer of their roots, a farmer of wonder and change, a healer of broken hearts, a student, and a teacher. Abuela accompanies her grandchild on this journey, standing or sitting nearby, at times even lifting up the child. Alizadeh’s scratchy illustrations show the loving relationship between grandmother and grandchild, both depicted as people of color. The beginning endpapers illustrate the studio walls as a blank canvas with limitless opportunities, the back endpapers show those opportunities fulfilled with splashes of color depicting all the things the young narrator can be. Méndez and Alizadeh create a balance between the abstract and concrete by letting the child imagine the future but with Abuela’s guidance and support. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet read to share with loved ones. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-283995-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture...

HAPPY DREAMER

Displaying his distinctive voice and images, Reynolds celebrates the joys and challenges of being a creative spirit.

“I am a HAPPY DREAMER,” cheers a thin, spiky-haired white boy as he flies skyward, streaming yellow swirls of sparkles. This little “dreamer maximus” piles on the energy with colors and noise and the joy-filled exuberance he has for life. “Wish you could HEAR inside my head / TRUMPETY, ZIGZAG JAZZ!” With clear honesty, he shares that the world tells him to be quiet, to focus and pay attention. Like a roller-coaster ride, Reynolds’ text and illustrations capture the energetic side of creativity and the gloom of cleaning up the messes that come with it while providing a wide vocabulary to describe emotional brilliance and resilience. The protagonist makes no apologies for expressing his feelings and embracing his distinct view of the world. This makes him happy. The book finishes with a question to readers: “What kind of dreamer are you?” Hinging outward, the double-page spread opens to four panels, each with a dozen examples of multiracial children being happy and being dreamers, showing inspiring possibilities for exploration. The best way, of course, is to “just BE YOU.”

A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-86501-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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