Although this picture book provides a necessary message of acceptance and representation for transgender boys, the narrative...

JACK (NOT JACKIE)

A big sister learns a lesson about loving her transgender brother for who he is.

Susan dreams of playing forest fairies and explorers with a little sister. She loves to hear her baby sibling giggle. However, as the baby grows up, Susan struggles to accept their differences in self-expression. Despite their mother’s gentle admonition to let her sibling be, Susan thinks it’s wrong that the person she sees as a sister wants to wear clothes from the boys’ section. After her sibling asks for a short haircut, she feels betrayed when Jack (not Jackie) tells the family he’s Susan’s brother. Remembering how much she loved Jack as a baby helps Susan accept the new transition. Narrated in first person, the story focuses on the feelings of the cisgender sister of a transgender boy. For most of the text, Susan calls her brother “Jackie” and uses she/her pronouns to refer to him. While Susan struggles, their mother offers refreshing acceptance throughout the story with reassurances such as “We wear what feels right.” The characters adhere to gender stereotypes, but the author’s note offers a less binary discussion of gender identity. Illustrations that combine digital line drawing and realistic textures accompany the text and depict Susan, Jack, and their parents as white.

Although this picture book provides a necessary message of acceptance and representation for transgender boys, the narrative remains rooted in a cisgender perspective. (further reading) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0731-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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