One of the most gratifying responses to a concern expressed in a review is evidence that it’s been taken to heart. After Kirkus complained about the use of only English measurements in Steve Jenkins’Actual Size, for instance, its successor volume,Prehistoric Actual Size, provided both English and metric measurements, bringing the science book into compliance with international standards.
Rarely, however, is action taken almost instantaneously, but that was the case withWho We Are! All About Being the Same ...
Writing about race.
Is Make Lemonade conciously race-neutral?
It’s a little word but a potent one.
About six or seven months ago, Kirkus started identifying characters in children’s and teen books by identity and/or race—all the time. And it hasn’t been easy.
It’s been commonplace, if not exactly standard practice, to include racial identifiers for nonwhite characters for decades now in book reviews, especially if a book deals in some way with race. Our review of Mildred Taylor’s 1975 novel, Song of the Trees, for instance, says ...
Walter Dean Myers photgraphed by Constance Myers.
Libraries are peaceful places, but that's because they have to be: "In every book there's a fight," said Chris Myers at the Library of Congress on Friday, March 18, so "all around us are fights." He spoke to a roomful of advocates for diversity in books for kids, there to celebrate the first annual Walter Awards, presented by We Need Diverse Books. They were named for Myers' father, the multiaward-winning Walter Dean Myers, who spent his life writing ...
Answer: not being published.
I have an aversion to these Hallmark holidays at the best of times, but as I look at this year’s crop of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day books, what’s really got me down is seeing how few of them celebrate families of color. Of the 31 books in our Mother’s Day/Father’s Day roundup in this issue, just three—three!—feature protagonists that children of color might readily see as mirrors.
Catch a Kiss, by Deborah Diesen and illustrated by Kris ...
Big Nate creator, Lincoln Pierce.
As complaints go, it was an easy one to handle. A school librarian in Texas emailed us about Big Nate and Friends (the color edition), saying, “On page 166, Big Nate and his friends are talking to each other about being ‘rated’ by the girls in their school and how the boys feel like ‘sex objects’…this type of language and content should not be even attempted (funny or not) in a book that may go to an elementary school library!” ...
Misreading race in this children's book.
Terry and Eric's father Kuang Tih Fann. Photo credit to Terry Fan.
A couple of weeks ago, I received a very polite note from Eric and Terry Fan, author/illustrators of the stunningly beautiful The Night Gardener, a picture book about an old man who transforms a dreary neighborhood with marvelous topiary and inspires a young boy to follow suit. They wanted to bring my attention to a parenthetical statement in the review that described the Night Gardener as white. They were taken aback, you see, because their mental model for the ...
A groundbreaking choice.
Christian Robinson and Matt de la Peña with their award winning book.
Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson’s Last Stop on Market Street made history twice over when it won the 2016 Newbery Medal. First, it made de la Peña the first Latino author to win the Newbery, toppling another barrier and further broadening the U.S. children’s-literature canon beyond the lily-white. Second, it is a 32-page picture storybook for preschoolers and early-elementary children.
The Newbery is open to U.S. books with an audience of children from birth through 14 ...
Don't assume it's a he or even a she.
Spooky Pookie author Sandra Boynton. Photo credited to Jamie McEwan.
There’s a special sting that comes with a slap from Sandra Boynton. Yes, the author/illustrator of the uber-cuddly Moo, Baa, La La La! and Tickle Time can deliver a spanking, as I discovered when the publisher of Spooky Pookie, Boynton’s latest board book starring her character Pookie the piglet, contacted me, asking that we remove the word “his” from our review: “The author has specifically asked that Pookie’s gender not be mentioned.” Ouch.
One of the many details ...