Intelligently and sympathetically demonstrates that children have complex emotional lives too.

JENNY MEI IS SAD

Jenny Mei may smile and joke around, but her best friend knows that inside, she is sad.

A small, unnamed Black child with two Afro puffs describes best friend Jenny Mei (who presents Asian): a girl who can smile, share, and make people laugh even though she’s sad. But when Jenny Mei has a bad day and acts out in school, the narrator is there for her in all the ways a friend can be: waiting after school while Jenny talks with the teacher, being a good listener, or just being together—with popsicles. After a quiet walk, a game of kick the rock, and a quick exhibition of blue and purple tongues, Jenny Mei begins to cry. But our narrator is there with her, “for fun and not-fun and everything in between.” The multiplicity of emotions and depth of friendship are conveyed by Subisak’s deceptively simple text (averaging one sentence per spread) and whimsical, attentive illustrations. The characters are drawn with black outlines, colorful outfits, and dots for eyes that seem to say it all. And while the reason Jenny Mei is sad is never explicitly stated, subtle clues will give perceptive readers an idea of what’s happening in her life. Focus, however, stays on what is most important: the quiet support of a friend who understands.

Intelligently and sympathetically demonstrates that children have complex emotional lives too. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53771-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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An honest look at motherhood in the contemporary era and a sweet tribute to the bond between mother and child.

ALWAYS WITH YOU, ALWAYS WITH ME

Grammy-winning, multiplatinum singer/songwriter Rowland teams up with California teacher McKay to celebrate busy moms.

This picture book highlights a mother’s frequent longing to be with her child when life’s demands pull them apart. The story takes us through a busy Black mom’s week: She goes to work (at a construction site where she appears to be an engineer), works from home on her son’s sick day, takes him to a museum, and shares domestic duties with her Black male partner, who is a nurse. She encounters many bumps in the road that will be familiar to working parents. Each day, she gently reassures her son with a lyrical refrain: “Always with you, / Always with me, / Mommy and child / Together we’ll be.” This tender story, narrated in the voice of a mother addressing her child, pulls at the heartstrings. Liem’s digital artwork uses a warm palette and has a calming quality. The characters’ body language and heartfelt facial expressions are spot-on. This book will resonate with any mom who knows the heartache of having to say goodbye to their child or who has faced the teary-eyed frustration of a youngster experiencing separation anxiety. Young readers, on the other hand, will find solace in the reassuring narrative. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An honest look at motherhood in the contemporary era and a sweet tribute to the bond between mother and child. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46551-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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