Giroux expresses core truths through his insightful and heartfelt poem.

I AM ODD, I AM NEW

An elementary-age kid tries to find a place in a world that makes him feel devastatingly different.

Who belongs where? Who can belong? The narrator compares himself to those around him and feels isolated. Should he even try to fit in? He hears “noises in the air.” No one else seems to—why him? If he shrinks and hides away, will people stop laughing? Why can’t he be like the kids he sees walking past the window? Did he come from outer space? Buffeted by this feeling of oddness, he seems to find no answers until he realizes that he isn’t the only one—everyone is “odd and new,” and that is not such a bad thing. Written when the autistic author was 10, Giroux’s poetic exploration of being/feeling different from the perspective of living on the spectrum brings to light that being neurodivergent is not the same as being broken or “less.” Being different is not an insurmountable obstacle to experiencing life but rather a gift to experience more. In metaphorical scenes that vary from spread to spread as they interpret the lines, MacLean’s soft-hued illustrations show the narrator, depicted as a bespectacled White kid, as apart yet a part of the world around him. The predominance of blues and purples emphasizes the sense of separateness. The foreword by the National Autism Association states: “No one has ever made a difference in the world by being the same.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Giroux expresses core truths through his insightful and heartfelt poem. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7643-6241-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Schiffer

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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