Powerful in its cleareyed optimism.

ARELI IS A DREAMER

A TRUE STORY BY ARELI MORALES, A DACA RECIPIENT

In her debut children’s book, a Dreamer recalls her journey from Mexico to New York and the subsequent reality of living as an undocumented immigrant.

Areli’s tale begins at Abuela’s house, where days brim “with family and sunshine,” delicious “mounds of tortillas and pollo con frijoles for supper,” and calls from Mamá and Papá from America. It’s an idyllic life, but it’s undercut when Areli’s big brother, Alex, born in America, returns to Nueva York, leaving Areli behind. Though Mamá and Papá work hard for “a better life,” the days pass—Areli’s birthday, Día de los Muertos, Navidad—with Areli separated from her family. Then one day Areli must leave Mexico and head to New York with a family friend. It’s a time of difficult goodbyes for Areli, and in the span of a few wordless pages, Areli’s in the midst of the “bigger and faster and noisier” bustle of New York, reunited with her family. In scene after scene of Areli’s life, Uribe’s colorful yet muted artwork depicts the young Dreamer’s voyage from Abuela’s house to America with a lovely sense of restrained appreciation. Morales, a DACA recipient, spins an admirable third-person memoir that deeply resonates thanks to keen details that conjure moods with a few choice words. Although Areli’s tale packs years of experiences in a tight 40-page picture book, the author maintains command of her readers’ attention by translating a life-disrupting migration into a confident, heartfelt story. Key highlights include Areli’s adjustment to life in America and an eye-opening trip to Ellis Island in the latter half of the book.

Powerful in its cleareyed optimism. (author’s note, glossary) (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984893-99-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Despite the name recognition of the author and relevance of the story, sweet yet inconsequential.

I COLOR MYSELF DIFFERENT

A debut picture book from the NFL quarterback who took a knee during the national anthem.

Kaepernick speaks directly to children about growing up Black in a White family. The story focuses on one incident: When he shares a drawing of his adoptive family with his class, other students ask why he’s the only brown-skinned one. But with reassurance from his mother, young Colin realizes he should take pride in his identity. Although he says, “I don’t know too many kids who look like me,” the bland, somewhat idealized illustrations show a classroom with children with a variety of skin tones, and the teacher is Black. The story includes a rather simplistic explanation of what it means to be adopted: “Ever since Mom wrapped me in that warm hug, I knew having brown skin and being adopted made me special.” Kaepernick adds, “I have brown eyes, a brown nose, and brown hands...just like the people who inspire, create, lead, and change the world.” The accompanying illustration depicts nine African American historical figures, including athletes famous for taking political stands: Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who raised their fists at the 1968 Olympics, and Muhammad Ali, as well as Huey Newton, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Malcolm X. The historical roles of these individuals are explained in a brief addendum. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Despite the name recognition of the author and relevance of the story, sweet yet inconsequential. (“letter to the reader”) (Picture-book biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-78962-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2022

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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