A picture book to love best in all seasons.

IN MY GARDEN

A picture-book update that does Zolotow’s legacy proud.

Stead has carved out a spot in contemporary picture books after years of study of the form. He says as much in his dedication to the late author and editor Zolotow, noting that he began collecting picture books, including hers, as a teenager. His stunning artistic interpretation of this text (first published in 1960) is a triumph in how it matches the writing’s quiet tone without sacrificing visual interest. Historians of the form may find it curious that the original artist, Roger Duvoisin, is not acknowledged except on the copyright page. But perhaps there is a visual tribute: Like Duvoisin, Stead illustrates a black cat, unmentioned by the text, who accompanies a young child (who appears white) through the seasons and the garden. Stead adds a woman (also white-appearing) to the illustrations, perhaps the child’s mother or grandmother, whose presence enhances the sense of wonder and quiet delight in the spreads. Her kindly ways offer steady assurance that this child is safe and beloved while exploring the world. What’s more than that, the woman clearly nurtures the child’s love of nature, as when she hangs a birdhouse while the child’s first-person narration reads “in the spring what I love best in my garden are the birds building nests.”

A picture book to love best in all seasons. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4320-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A riotously fresh take on breaking the fourth wall.

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THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES

This book may not have pictures, but it’s sure to inspire lots of conversations—and laughs.

Television writer, actor and comedian Novak delivers a rare find, indeed: a very good celebrity picture book. It doesn’t even seem fair to call it such, since it has nothing to do with his Emmy Award–winning writing for The Office or the fame his broader career has afforded him. The jacket flap even eschews a glossy photo, instead saying “B.J. has brown hair and blue eyes,” in order to keep with the book’s central conceit. What this book does have is text, and it’s presented through artful typography that visually conveys its changing tone to guide oral readings. Furthermore, the text implies (or rather, demands) a shared reading transaction, in which an adult is compelled to read the text aloud, no matter how “COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS” it is. Employing direct address, it pleads with the implied child listener to allow him or her to stop reading. Nonsense words, silly words to be sung and even a smattering of potty talk for good measure all coalesce in riotous read-aloud fare. Although the closing pages beg the implied child reader to “please please please please / please / choose a book with pictures” for subsequent reading, it’s likely that this request will be ignored.

A riotously fresh take on breaking the fourth wall. (. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4171-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Lacking in originality yet ultimately a timely mirror for black boyhood and childhood

COOL CUTS

This companion to Happy Hair (2019) takes the same appreciation for the diversity of black self-expression from the beauty salon to the barbershop.

Branching out from black girl hairstyles, Roe here extends the conversation to consider the multitude of hairstyles for black and brown boys even as readers can infer a wider representation of the gender spectrum, since many of the illustrations come without explicit gender assignments. There’s a legacy of black boys who have been targeted, punished, or criticized for their choice of self-expression, and this book is a needed corrective. Arriving after the much-heralded Crown (2017), this makes space to celebrate a wide range of styles, from cornrows and curls to fro-hawks and flat-tops. Each matte, posterlike portrait is rendered alongside a catchy, empowering quote: “When the stars shine, / the world is mine” highlights a high-top; “A happy boy, / full of joy!” celebrates a step-up. A (rather trite) refrain pulls them all together: “i am born to be AWESOME!” Roe is returning to the series after Superheroes Are Everywhere (2019), her recent bestselling collaboration with Sen. Kamala Harris, undoubtedly bringing a number of new fans with her. For a segment of U.S. readership that is starved for representation that appreciates the unique details and nuances of their style and identity, this steps in to lift up their presence in bright, lively portraiture.

Lacking in originality yet ultimately a timely mirror for black boyhood and childhood . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9557-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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