Show kids the world is their oyster by giving them this thought-provoking book.


An empowering picture book encourages children to develop their own voice, style, and personality in order to make an impact in the world.

A young Black girl invites young readers to “look around” at the world and reflect on what they will “do.../ or say.../ or make... / to express who you are.” With a camera in hand, she visits various places in her neighborhood—an art gallery, a sewing studio, and a planetarium, to name a few—and observes the many ways in which kids in her community are expressing themselves. Readers see another girl painting a mural, a boy with dreadlocks spinning music at a turntable, a marching band practicing, a choir singing, a spoken word artist performing, dancers and hula-hoopers in the park, and more. “Maybe your creative space is blank... / patiently waiting for you to fill it with powerful text” reads a double-page spread showing kids making signs for—and then participating in—a street protest. Another double-page spread shows kids getting their hair styled in a salon, and the text asks “Are you the canvas?” A current of lyricism runs through Dalton’s narrative, which is thoughtful and inquisitory (“Is there a place where you shine? A space you / fill with all the things that inspire you?”), reminding kids to take their time and reflect carefully as they figure out who they are and what they want to share with the world. Peoples’ artwork, rendered using oil on paper and illustration board, is reminiscent of child art and fittingly draws attention to itself as a created work through the use of painterly textures. All characters are Black.

Show kids the world is their oyster by giving them this thought-provoking book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35139-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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As insubstantial as hot air.


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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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.


From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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