Poignant, broad strokes invite a deep delve.

PEACE

A visually splendid primer on peace.

“Peace is on purpose. / Peace is a choice. / Peace lets the smallest of us / have a voice.” In this attractive package, lyrical, rhyming text explores various forms of peace. A few usual laundry-list suspects are included: “Peace is a hello, / a smile, / a hug.” But the co-authors manage to slip in emotive twists: “Peace can be bold / or quiet and snug.” Extra attention is paid to inclusivity: “Peace is pronouncing / your friend’s name correctly. // Peace means we talk / to each other directly.” This imperative is found in the illustrations as well, in which a multiracial cast of children includes two who wear eyeglasses and one who walks with forearm crutches. Luscious scenes in warm, comforting hues show the children mixing with plump, pillowy animals in a variety of habitats (in one scene a snoozing lion acts as a literal pillow); an authors’ note takes an extra step: Peace means humans living in harmony with one another and living in balance with nature too. During war and conflict, wildlife is also affected. That note also explains that animals from Mozambique—war torn but recovering—grace the pages along with other national symbols of peace. The Pauls offer strong, bold words, hoping they’ll land in the hearts of children everywhere. The lulling text will work well to soothe young activists, but the tricky concept of peace requires an older understanding. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15.8% of actual size.)

Poignant, broad strokes invite a deep delve. (Picture book. 3-10)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4449-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Celebrate a truly accepting multicultural character.

LOLA LEVINE IS NOT MEAN!

From the Lola Levine series , Vol. 1

Brown introduces a smart, young protagonist with a multicultural background in this series opener for chapter-book readers.

Second-grader Lola Levine is half-Peruvian and half-Jewish; she is a skilled soccer player, a persuasive writer, and aspires to own a cat in the near future should her parents concede. During a friendly recess soccer match, Lola, playing goalie, defends an incoming ball by coming out of her box and accidentally fouls a classmate. And so Lola acquires the rhyming nickname Mean Lola Levine. Through Lola’s first-person narration, readers see clearly how her savvy and creativity come from her family: Dad, who paints, Mom, who writes, and a fireball younger brother. She also wears her bicultural identity easily. In her narration, her letters to her friends, and dialogue, Lola easily inserts such words as diario, tía, bubbe, and shalom. For dinner, the family eats matzo ball soup, Peruvian chicken, and flan. Interspersed throughout the story are references to all-star soccer athletes, from Brazilian master Pelé to Mia Hamm, Briana Scurry, and David Beckham. Dominguez’s black-and-white illustrations are cheery and appealing, depicting a long-haired Caucasian father and dark-skinned, black-haired mother. Typefaces that emulate penmanship appropriately differ from character to character: Lola’s is small and clean, her mother’s is tall and slanted, while Juan’s, the injured classmate, is sloppy and lacks finesse.

Celebrate a truly accepting multicultural character. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-25836-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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