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

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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

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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