Words and pictures also cooperate to deliver a gentle but important lesson.

CORAL

Mermaids share a message.

Mermaids Coral, Filly, and Manta work together to create the reef they call their home. But when Coral hides in a secluded nook she hopes to keep for herself, she discovers the emptiness that can result from not sharing. Idle, creator of the much-loved Flora series, returns to the underwater world she created for Pearl (2018) with this clever metaphorical depiction of the parts of a flourishing reef: the coral that constructs the reef itself, the fish that feed there, and the sharks and rays that keep it balanced. But her gentle fable resonates beyond the environmental level. The mermaids’ conversation sounds like squabbling siblings: “You’ve ruined everything!” and “All you make is a mess!” With colored pencils, she’s created a glowing, pastel-hued underwater world inhabited by three mermaids (Coral’s pink, Manta’s blue, and Filly’s a brown-toned yellow). (In a particularly nice design touch, the watery landscape of the back-cover flap exactly meets the pattern of the endpaper.) Her mermaids don’t sparkle; they, too, almost glow, matching the tones of their environment, and they reject clichéd mermaid imagery, instead appearing more as armed, anthropomorphic fish than human women with fish tales. During the quarrel, both color and background fade away. Coral goes white with anger, reflecting the color of a distressed reef, before her color returns as they reconcile.

Words and pictures also cooperate to deliver a gentle but important lesson. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-46571-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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A TREE IS NICE

A nursery school approach to a general concept. "A tree is nice"- Why? Because..."We can climb the tree...play pirate ship...pick the apples...build playhouses out of the leaves. A tree is nice to hang a swing in...Birds build nests in trees... Sticks come off trees...People have picnics there too"...etc. etc. One follows the give and take of a shared succession of reactions to what a tree- or trees- can mean. There is a kind of poetic simplicity that is innate in small children. Marc Simont has made the pictures, half in full color, and they too have a childlike directness (with an underlying sophistication that adults will recognize). Not a book for everyone -but those who like it will like it immensely. The format (6 x 11) makes it a difficult book for shelving, so put it in the "clean hands" section of flat books. Here's your first book for Arbor Day use- a good spring and summer item.

Pub Date: June 15, 1956

ISBN: 978-0-06-443147-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1956

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