A beautiful ode to friendship that brings Browning’s rhythms to kids’ level.

HOW DO I LOVE THEE?

Three diverse children adapt Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43 from love poem to celebration of friendship.

A pale girl with black hair in pigtails, a light-brown–skinned boy with brown hair and glasses, and a dark-brown–skinned girl with afro puffs atop her head are clearly the best of friends, often holding hands or otherwise touching in the mixed-media–and-digital illustrations. Adams has kept what concepts children can understand of Browning’s language, replacing the rest with references to the seasons and kid-friendly language. Instead of “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height / My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight,” Adams offers, “I love thee deep / and wide and high. // I love thee in soft sunlight / and rain-drizzled night.” The former spread shows the trio in a submarine and on a ship at sea. Instead of Browning’s passionate declamations, readers hear, “I love thee by stars / and firelight. // By spring’s first snowdrops // and fall’s red trees // and winter’s frost-etched breath.” The illustrations mix the real and the fantastical: One of the last spreads (“…and at end of day’s goodnight kiss”) portrays the three children suspended from kites, two of them being welcomed by a parent’s arms, the third still drifting toward home. Neal’s friendly, matte artwork is softly colored in earth tones. The final page tells a little about Browning and gives the original text of Sonnet 43.

A beautiful ode to friendship that brings Browning’s rhythms to kids’ level. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-239444-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best.

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THE SMART COOKIE

From the Food Group series

This smart cookie wasn’t alwaysa smart cookie.

At the corner of Sweet Street stands a bakery, which a whole range of buns and cakes and treats calls home, including a small cookie who “didn’t feel comfortable speaking up or sharing” any ideas once upon a time. During the early days of gingerbread school, this cookie (with sprinkles on its top half, above its wide eyes and tiny, smiling mouth) never got the best grades, didn’t raise a hand to answer questions, and almost always finished most tests last, despite all best efforts. As a result, the cookie would worry away the nights inside of a cookie jar. Then one day, kind Ms. Biscotti assigns some homework that asks everyone “to create something completely original.” What to do? The cookie’s first attempts (baking, building a birdhouse, sculpting) fail, but an idea strikes soon enough. “A poem!” Titling its opus “My Crumby Days,” the budding cookie poet writes and writes until done. “AHA!” When the time arrives to share the poem with the class, this cookie learns that there’s more than one way to be smart. John and Oswald’s latest installment in the hilarious Food Group series continues to provide plenty of belly laughs (thanks to puns galore!) and mini buns of wisdom in a wholly effervescent package. Oswald’s artwork retains its playful, colorful creative streak. Although slightly less effective than its predecessors due to its rather broad message, this one’s nonetheless an excellent addition to the menu.(This book was reviewed digitally.)

A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304540-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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