A loving, tender celebration of the mother-child bond.

SOME DAYS

A TALE OF LOVE, ICE CREAM, AND MY MOM’S CHRONIC ILLNESS

Not all superheroes wear capes, and the mom in this story proves just that.

Young narrator Wyatt shares how Mom may not always feel super, but “she uses her superpowers to battle her [multiple sclerosis].” No matter how good or bad she feels, they always have adventures, big and small. Some days when Mom is tired, they play in a special fort just for two. Some days, Mom is a bit unsteady, but with her magical stick, they can cast spells on Wyatt’s toys. No matter what they face, they will always have each other and fill each day with love. This beautiful picture book shares an affirming message that honestly and unapologetically reflects life with a parent who has a chronic illness. Author Stamm was diagnosed with M.S. in 2007 and, according to her concluding note, wrote this story to serve “as a tool to reinvent the perception of chronic illness and empower the children battling alongside their superhero parents.” She does just that, using Wyatt’s narrative to share ideas for entertaining games while managing symptoms and side effects of a long-term illness. Kellogg’s illustrations notably construct an unshakeable parent-child relationship using warm, vibrant colors and joyful expressions. Love and acceptance radiate on every page. Wyatt, his mom, and the unidentified man who sometimes accompanies them—sensitively leaving readers to their own interpretations of the relationship—all present White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A loving, tender celebration of the mother-child bond. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-61519-810-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: The Experiment

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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