An exploration of community and belonging that’s highly recommended for all families and all bookshelves.

THE RAINBOW PARADE

Inspired by the author’s childhood memories of attending San Francisco Pride, this picture book offers a delightfully dynamic child’s-eye view of the festivities.

Emily, a young White girl, and her two White moms take the train to join their “family of friends” alongside the parade route. Emily narrates the story in the first person, relaying her observations. She admires the bikers and the loud, proud, colorful marchers and performers, who vary in size, skin color, physical ability, and age and who wear “whatever makes them feel most like themselves.” But when Mommy spots a group of LGBTQ+ families (“just like us!”) marching and suggests they join them, Emily worries she’s “not loud or proud enough to be in the parade.” Her moms’ poignant, encouraging responses are just what she (and likely, many readers) needs to hear. Neilson employs simple, accessible language to deliver a buoyant tale that fleshes out the notion of Pride—an integral cultural concept within the LGBTQ+ community—by showing rather than telling. The stylized digital illustrations include true-to-life details that affectionately reflect the array of outfits, identities, and signage one might encounter at a Pride celebration. Meanwhile, the pitch-perfect visual pacing (the artwork shifts effortlessly between immersive, full-bleed pages and spot illustrations) captures the movement, scope, and many moods of the parade. Readers familiar with San Francisco may recognize the BART train, which helps establish the setting. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An exploration of community and belonging that’s highly recommended for all families and all bookshelves. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32658-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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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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