Like the art itself, this book leaves space to see and contemplate. Is this for you? Absolutely.

OPPOSITES ABSTRACT

An exploration of abstract art inspires readers to ask what exactly is an opposite, anyway?

First, the elephant in the room: There are no elephants here, nor pigs nor pigeons, for that matter. Instead, readers find enticing acrylic-and-ink abstracts that would feel equally at home on an art museum’s walls or a child’s bedroom floor. What sets it apart as a concept book is Willem’s insistence on questioning the criteria of opposites. Instead of declaring it so, he invites readers viewing a gently curved, colorfully blobby painting to ponder, “Is this soft?” Who made that decision anyway? Some compositions feel easy to interpret, such as a “calm” pale-blue, wavelike composition contrasting with an “excited” shape- and line-filled extravaganza. Bold additions of open-ended pairs, such as the circuit-filled “mechanical” and amoebalike “organic” pairing, seem purposefully designed to elicit rich conversation. None will accomplish that more than a poignant “inclusion” and “exclusion” set, with a grid of matte primary-colored rectangles juxtaposed with an empty white square with a singular, lonely black square in the corner. Only a barely painted teal square on the opening page which “is starting” and on a final page declared “finished” as a fully painted square are utterly definitive (both statements are the only ones that end with periods), reminding readers that everything else is up to them.

Like the art itself, this book leaves space to see and contemplate. Is this for you? Absolutely. (Concept book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-07097-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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As a parable of gender nonconformity this is too disjointed to work. Don’t bother.

MY SHADOW IS PINK

A young boy accepts his unusual shadow.

In this world, everyone has a sentient, self-directed shadow that represents their innermost self. The White, floppy-haired main character explains that his shadow “is quite different, it’s not what you think.” Most of the shadows in his family are blue, but his is pink and “loves…princesses, fairies, and things ‘not for boys.’ ” In awkward rhyming couplets the narrator anxiously awaits the first day of school, where all of his apparently mixed-gender classmates seem to have blue shadows. When he's instructed (via a rhyming note) to wear his shadow’s “favourite thing” to school, he arrives in a tutu—then runs home when everyone stares at him. His father, a burly masculine triangle of a man and also White, dons a pink hooded dress in solidarity to escort his son back to school, and all is well. The central conceit of this story leaves many questions unsatisfyingly unanswered: Many girl-presenting classmates have blue shadows, so how are shadow colors assigned at birth? How can a person’s shadow have a discrete sexual orientation? Why use rhyming couplets when they lead to tortured constructions like “I join a small group, though in I don’t blend”? (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.8-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 20.8% of actual size.)

As a parable of gender nonconformity this is too disjointed to work. Don’t bother. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-648-72875-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Larrikin House/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness.

THE BRAIN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

An introduction to the lead guitar and vocalist for the Brainiacs—the human brain.

The brain (familiar to readers of Seluk’s “The Awkward Yeti” webcomic, which spun off the adult title Heart and Brain, 2015) looks like a dodgeball with arms and legs—pinkish, sturdy, and roundish, with a pair of square-framed spectacles bestowing an air of importance and hipness. Other organs of the body—tongue, lungs, stomach, muscle, and heart—are featured as members of the brain’s rock band (the verso of the dust jacket is a poster of the band). Seluk’s breezy, conversational prose and brightly colored, boldly outlined cartoon illustrations deliver basic information. The brain’s role in keeping the heart beating and other automatic functions, directing body movements, interpreting sights and sounds, remembering smells and tastes, and regulating sleep and hunger are all explained, prose augmented by dialogue balloons and information sidebars. Seluk points out, importantly, that feelings originate in the brain: “You can control how you react…but your feelings happen no matter what.” The parodied album covers on the front endpapers (including the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Run DMC, Queen, Nirvana) will amuse parents—or at least grandparents—and the rear endpapers serve up band members’ clever social media and texting screenshots. Backmatter includes a glossary and further brain trivia but no resources or bibliography.

A good overview of this complex, essential organ, with an energetic seasoning of silliness. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-16700-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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