An accessible, important addition to any anti-racist bookshelf.



From the First Conversations series

A conversation starter for adults and children on race, racism, and what to do about it.

Subtitled “A First Conversation About Race,” this book breaks race and racism down into simple terms and builds from there. It begins by asking readers to think about their skin and the skin of the people in their families. Through the context of differences in skin color, readers explore both the science of skin color with an explanation of melanin levels and questions like “What do you love about your skin?” and the social aspects of skin color and the ways that “people of color” are treated differently—both intentionally and not. The book skillfully tackles a broad range of topics, from identity terms to White supremacy, in direct and kid-friendly language. The nuanced summary of the different ways racism manifests is concrete and sure to spark important dialogue between children and the adults they read with. The message “Racism hurts and is always unfair!” is followed by suggestions for how readers can work to make change. People of many different racial presentations and ages, along with people with visible disabilities, are depicted in the bright watercolor illustrations. A “Continue the Conversation” section geared toward adults discusses helpful strategies for cultivating understanding of racism in even the youngest children.

An accessible, important addition to any anti-racist bookshelf. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-38263-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Vague, slapdash reassurances to readers growing up in a worrisome world.


Simple comforts for young fretters and overthinkers.

Recycling themes and even some images from The I'm Not Scared Book (2011), Parr first enumerates a selective list of things that can cause anxiety (fears of the dark or of having to go to the doctor, having too much to do, being bullied) and times that worrying can happen. The latter include lying awake in bed, watching TV, "looking at screens too much" (a frazzled-looking person holds a tablet), and overhearing "bad news"—exemplified with an image of a flying saucer, travelers from abroad (of one sort or another) being much on people's minds these days. He then goes on to general coping strategies ranging from taking deep breaths to visiting friends, dancing, squeezing a toy, or just thinking about "everyone who loves and takes care of you!" "Worrying doesn't help you," he concludes, but talking about concerns will. Readers searching for books that address deeper-seated anxiety might be better served by Me and My Fear, by Francesca Sanna (2018). In Parr's thick-lined, minimally detailed illustrations, the artist employs his characteristic technique of adding blue, purple, and bright yellow to the palette of skin tones; he also occasionally switches out human figures for dogs or cats behaving as people would. It's a strategy, though it leaves the cast with a generic look overall.

Vague, slapdash reassurances to readers growing up in a worrisome world. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-50668-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A timely message in the wrong format.


This book delivers a message on the power of collective action.

As the book opens, a child looks at a lone star shining in the sky: “One star shines as distant light.” After the turn of the page, the child now sees what looks like the Milky Way: “And when stars shine together, they make our galaxy.” The book goes on to give a number of similar examples to reinforce the message of the power that comes from working together, ending with: “One of us can speak up for justice / And when we speak up together we create a world of possibility.” In the current atmosphere of strife and discord that divides our country, this is certainly a welcome message. Perhaps, though, the board-book set is not the right audience. As a picture book aimed at a slightly older group with an information page at the end explaining some of the illustrations, it might work well. As it is, however, some of the visual references will merely puzzle a toddler—and some adults. For example, a group of angry-looking people raising their fists and singing together may not look like “harmony” to a toddler—unless they know about the New Zealand haka. There is an unexplained frog motif that runs through the book that may also mystify readers. Nagara’s brilliant illustrations portray people of many ethnic backgrounds.

A timely message in the wrong format. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64421-084-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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