The picture-book equivalent of “It’s a Small World.”


From the Around the World series

Third in a series of informational picture books for preschoolers and early-elementary readers about children around the world (Families Around the World, 2014, etc.).

Children often wonder what it would be like to go to a different school. Each spread of this oversized picture book explores that question. Starting with Tamatoa, who attends a Cook Island school (where the children learn the Ura language and dance the hupa), the page turn finds Raphael in an international school in Singapore (where lo mein is just one of the canteen’s many lunch offerings). Further page turns bring readers to China, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Kenya (where Mathii lives in an orphanage), Turkey, Germany (a boarding school for Johannes), Denmark (part city school, part forest school), Venezuela, Honduras, the USA (home-schooled twin sisters) and finally, a First Nations school in Canada. There’s more than a bit of sameness to the flat, brightly colored, paper-doll–like illustrations, an irony given that the author has gone out of her way to present a welcome diversity of backgrounds. Each school looks well-funded, and there are no overcrowded or single-sex classrooms pictured. This volume could provide a starting place for classrooms that study children around the world, as the backmatter points children to organizations that raise funds for building schools and libraries internationally. These excellent resources give a more honest view of the state of international education than the book itself.

The picture-book equivalent of “It’s a Small World.” (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77138-047-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.


Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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This extraordinary book will make it hard for any child reader to settle for the mundaneness of reality.


A testament to the power of an imaginative mind.

A compulsively creative, unnamed, brown-skinned little girl with purple hair wonders what she would do if the pencil she uses “to create…stories that come from my heart” disappeared. Turns out, it wouldn’t matter. Art can take many forms. She can fold paper (origami), carve wood, tear wallpaper to create texture designs, and draw in the dirt. She can even craft art with light and darkness or singing and dancing. At the story’s climax, her unencumbered imagination explodes beyond the page into a foldout spread, enabling readers both literally and figuratively to see into her fantasy life. While readers will find much to love in the exuberant rhyming verse, attending closely to the illustrations brings its own rewards given the fascinating combinations of mixed media Curato employs. For instance, an impressively colorful dragon is made up of different leaves that have been photographed in every color phase from green to deep red, including the dragon’s breath (made from the brilliant orange leaves of a Japanese maple) and its nose and scales (created by the fan-shaped, butter-colored leaves of a gingko). Sugar cubes, flower petals, sand, paper bags, marbles, sequins, and lots more add to and compose these brilliant, fantasy-sparking illustrations.

This extraordinary book will make it hard for any child reader to settle for the mundaneness of reality. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39096-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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