An inspiring look at the formative years and work of a literary giant that’s sure to capture young readers’ attention.

STAR CHILD

A BIOGRAPHICAL CONSTELLATION OF OCTAVIA ESTELLE BUTLER

By the time she was 10 years old, Octavia Butler knew that she wanted to be a writer.

Weaving together quotes from Butler, prose passages of historical and biographical information, and her own original poetry, Zoboi explores the visionary speculative fiction author’s early life. This ambitious experimental biography is at once a tribute from an adoring fan and an introduction to Butler’s juvenilia and her childhood growing up as a shy Black child in postwar 1950s America. Each chapter covers a different aspect of, or key moment in, Butler’s girlhood and adolescence, showing the challenges she overcame and the sustaining force of her imagination. Included are black-and-white childhood photos and a facsimile of a handwritten story about wild horses that Butler worked on as a child and illustrated herself. Young readers familiar with the Butler oeuvre will note the allusions to her famous and groundbreaking works. Zoboi’s powerful poems vary in style and form; particularly interesting are several concrete poems, including the titular “Star Child,” “Moon Child,” and “Moon Child II,” with the words arranged on the page to reveal an image of a star, quarter moon, and full moon respectively. Readers will come away with an understanding of Butler’s early influences and an interest in her writing.

An inspiring look at the formative years and work of a literary giant that’s sure to capture young readers’ attention. (author’s note, bibliography, endnotes, photo credits) (Biography. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-399-18738-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Wonderful, indeed

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THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU WILL BE

A GROWING-UP POEM

A love song to baby with delightful illustrations to boot.

Sweet but not saccharine and singsong but not forced, Martin’s text is one that will invite rereadings as it affirms parental wishes for children while admirably keeping child readers at its heart. The lines that read “This is the first time / There’s ever been you, / So I wonder what wonderful things / You will do” capture the essence of the picture book and are accompanied by a diverse group of babies and toddlers clad in downright adorable outfits. Other spreads include older kids, too, and pictures expand on the open text to visually interpret the myriad possibilities and hopes for the depicted children. For example, a spread reading “Will you learn how to fly / To find the best view?” shows a bespectacled, school-aged girl on a swing soaring through an empty white background. This is just one spread in which Martin’s fearless embrace of the white of the page serves her well. Throughout the book, she maintains a keen balance of layout choices, and surprising details—zebras on the wallpaper behind a father cradling his child, a rock-’n’-roll band of mice paralleling the children’s own band called “The Missing Teeth”—add visual interest and gentle humor. An ideal title for the baby-shower gift bag and for any nursery bookshelf or lap-sit storytime.

Wonderful, indeed . (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37671-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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