YOUR NAME IS A SONG

A girl learns to appreciate her long name and the diverse names of others.

A Black child wearing cornrows braided into an afro puff watches her classmates in the schoolyard playing handball. Momma arrives, wearing a bright headwrap, and asks about her first day of school. The girl is upset because no one could say her name—not even the teacher. Reflecting the title, Momma tells her to tell her teacher her name is a song. As they walk through the streets, swaying and dancing to the sounds of street musicians and music from cars, Momma sings names from many different cultures. (Each name is spelled phonetically in parentheses for ease of caregivers reading aloud.) The next day, “the girl didn’t want to go to school, but she had songs to teach.” She even shows her teacher that “Miss Anderson” is a song. This lovely celebration of African American culture, featuring a Muslim family, offers a fresh way to look at the tradition of creating new names; Momma says, “Made-up names come from dreamers. Their real names were stolen long ago so they dream up new ones. They make a way out of no way, make names out of no names—pull them from the sky!” A glossary notes the origins and meanings of the names included in the text, with a note to always listen closely to how a person pronounces their name. The dynamic, pastel-hued illustrations reflect energy and strength.

A delightful celebration. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-943147-72-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Less pathological than Love You Forever but aimed at the same audience.

ONE MORE HUG

The reassurance of “one more hug” allows a little boy to take on fears, new challenges, and responsibilities as he grows into an older boy, adolescent, and finally young man.

Graceful gouache paintings delineate a child’s progress, from coping with the fear of a storm and a broken toy through the first time on a school bus, growing older and learning to climb a tree, ride a bike, play soccer, training with the track team, and, ultimately, driving away to life on his own. All the while, Mama is there to provide support and love, always with a special hug. Related in the past tense by Mama, the narrative reflects a nostalgic remembrance yet conveys the constant unbreakable bond between mother and child. “But even though you were older, you were still my boy. And you asked for… // one more hug before your big performance.” In a final sentimental reflection, Mama wonders if her now-adult son understands her pride and love for him and is happily rewarded with a surprise visit and “one more hug.” Children will enjoy reviewing the relatable illustrations of a growing child’s activities; however, it’s parents who will undoubtedly identify with the emotions. According to the author’s note, the intent is to assure parents that sons should be allowed to express their feelings. Both Mama and son are white.

Less pathological than Love You Forever but aimed at the same audience. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2971-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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