A charming, rhyming picture book designed to inspire.

ONE GIRL

While sitting outside her home one night, a forlorn little girl is surprised by a book that falls from the sky.

Glowing like a shooting star, the book lands at her feet. When she opens it, the pages transport her to a whimsical, imaginary land full of possibility. The girl is so enamored with the book that she takes it to school and shares it with her classmates. Inspired by what she’s read, the girl begins to write her own, original story. Swept up in the magic she has created, the girl’s classmates start reading—and, in one case, writing—books of their own. Eventually the first girl’s words take flight, shimmering as they circle the Earth and land at the homes of other children who, presumably, will be inspired to find their voices. Beaty’s rhyming text is charmingly sparse: each word is carefully chosen, and the language glimmers with precision. Much of the story is told by Phumiruk’s gorgeous illustrations, which not only feature a protagonist who appears to be Asian, but also children with diverse skin tones and hair textures; all the children appear to be wearing school uniforms. While the words and pictures work in synchrony, creating a lyrical call to action encouraging children to find their voices and, simultaneously, their inner strength, the plot itself is abstract and widely open to interpretation, such that the book reads more like a poem than a traditional story. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 60.6% of actual size.)

A charming, rhyming picture book designed to inspire. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1905-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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