A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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There’s always tomorrow.

TOMORROW IS WAITING

A lyrical message of perseverance and optimism.

The text uses direct address, which the title- and final-page illustrations suggest comes from an adult voice, to offer inspiration and encouragement. The opening spreads reads, “Tonight as you sleep, a new day stirs. / Each kiss good night is a wish for tomorrow,” as the accompanying art depicts a child with black hair and light skin asleep in a bed that’s fantastically situated in a stylized landscape of buildings, overpasses, and roadways. The effect is dreamlike, in contrast with the next illustration, of a child of color walking through a field and blowing dandelion fluff at sunrise. Until the last spread, each child depicted in a range of settings is solitary. Some visual metaphors falter in terms of credibility, as in the case of a white-appearing child using a wheelchair in an Antarctic ice cave strewn with obstacles, as the text reads “you’ll explore the world, only feeling lost in your imagination.” Others are oblique in attempted connections between text and art. How does a picture of a pale-skinned, black-haired child on a bridge in the rain evoke “first moments that will dance with you”? But the image of a child with pink skin and brown hair scaling a wall as text reads “there will be injustice that will challenge you, and it will surprise you how brave you can be” is clearer.

There’s always tomorrow. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-99437-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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See, hear, touch, taste, smell...and imagine poetry all around you.

KIYOSHI'S WALK

A neighborhood walk unleashes the power of poetry.

Kiyoshi, a boy of Japanese heritage, watches his poet grandfather, Eto, write a poem in calligraphy. Intrigued, Kiyoshi asks, “Where do poems come from?” So begins a meditative walk through their bustling neighborhood, in which Kiyoshi discovers how to use his senses, his power of observation, and his imagination to build a poem. After each scene, Eto jots down a quick poem that serves as both a creative activity and an instruction for Kiyoshi. Eventually Kiyoshi discovers his own poetic voice, and together the boy and his grandfather find poems all around them. Spare, precise prose is coupled with the haiku Kiyoshi and his grandfather create, building the story through each new scene to expand Kiyoshi’s understanding of the origin of poems. Sensory language, such as flicked, whooshed, peeked, and reeled, not only builds readers’ vocabulary, but also models the vitality and precision of creative writing. The illustrations are just as thoughtfully crafted. Precisely rendered, the artwork is soft, warm, and captivating, offering vastly different perspectives and diverse characters who make up an apparently North American neighborhood that feels both familiar and new for a boy discovering how to view the world the way a poet does. Earth tones, coupled with bright yellows, pinks, and greens, draw readers in and encourage them to linger over each spread. An author’s note provides additional information about haiku.

See, hear, touch, taste, smell...and imagine poetry all around you. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62014-958-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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