A beautifully validating book that builds on the necessary work of its predecessor.

EYES THAT SPEAK TO THE STARS

A young Chinese American boy discovers himself, his roots, and his potential.

In this poetic celebration of body diversity, family, and Chinese culture, the author picks up on themes introduced in her New York Times bestselling picture book, Eyes That Kiss in the Corners (2021). While the previous title centered female family members, this offering focuses on three generations of male kindred. After a classmate draws an offensive and hurtful picture depicting the boy with slits for eyes, he finds comfort in his father’s affirming words: “Your eyes rise to the skies and speak to the stars. / The comets and constellations / show you their secrets, and your eyes can / foresee the future. / Just like mine.” The boy narrates that his father’s eyes “shine like runway lights” and are just like the eyes of his grandfather, who “holds the wisdom of generations.” He describes how his little brother, Di Di, has eyes just like the male family members who came before him. By finding a mirror in the loved ones whom he so adores and admires, the narrator begins to see that his eyes are powerful and visionary: “My eyes shine like sunlight rays / that break through dark and doubt.” The idea of “looking up” is a repeated textual and visual motif—sophisticated digital illustrations full of flowing lines imply upward movement, and scenes from the grandfather’s memories and his retellings of Chinese tales, as well as scenes of the family spending time together, feature aerial objects like comets and Chinese kites and sky lanterns. The circular narration emphasizes the reassuring similarities between blood relatives and the continuity of family tradition.

A beautifully validating book that builds on the necessary work of its predecessor. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-305775-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

more