A beautifully illustrated Afrocentric story that inspires as it informs.

SMILE WITH AFRICAN STYLE

From the Macy's World series

Macy proposes to celebrate African heritage in a very visible way.

A little brown-skinned Black girl with two Afro puffs, Macy greets her teacher, Miss Brown, and compliments her dress. Miss Brown, who is also Black, identifies the fabric as typical of West Africa. When Macy suggests that her classmates each wear an outfit from a different African country, Miss Brown loves the idea. The following week, Miss Brown points to Kenya on an African map as Naomi models a Kenyan Masai dress made with red shuka cloth and colorful beaded necklaces. Macy’s classmates wear Ghanaian Ashanti kente cloth; Angolan, Namibian and Ethiopian garb; a Nigerian ceremonial outfit, the agbada; a Rwandan Tutsi warrior’s clothing; and a Cameroonian elephant mask with matching outfit. Macy arrives late with a special surprise that makes everyone smile. Freeman’s colorful, detailed illustrations represent children with different hairstyles and skin tones, including one with albinism. A richer story would have given the children personal connections with the countries they represent. But even lacking that, this wonderful display of traditional clothing encourages readers to appreciate diversity within Africa and will spark interest in learning about the origins of these beautiful, colorful fabrics and the people who wear them, since clothing expresses culture in so many ways. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautifully illustrated Afrocentric story that inspires as it informs. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-913175-18-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cassava Republic Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Trite text and overworked art detract from an interesting concept.

FULL MOON LORE

Each month of the year is represented by a full moon, one of its nicknames in the Northern Hemisphere, and some notes about seasonal changes during that month.

“Let me tell you a story about the moon. That bright, round moon up there is called a Full Moon….People long ago kept track of the seasons by giving each full moon a special name.” A man with light-brown skin sits with a small, dark-haired, even lighter-skinned girl in his lap, open book before them. Behind them, a stylized version of a moonlit night sets the stage for more pages of full moons. The illustrations use strong, dark lines filled in with high-contrast blocks of color. A cursory glance invites a second look; a second look brings a discomfiting sense of the uncanny, as animals, plants, and humans are generally depicted in that nether world between realism and fantasy. A double-page spread of children gathering berries by moonlight is particularly eerie. The text is also a garbled mix of poetic imagery and snippets of natural science: “Thunder and lightning storms roll through the plains, providing strength for the farmer’s crops to grow.” What does that mean? Most pages keep the full moon gender-free, but it is given a male pronoun during April—as is November’s hardworking beaver. Most problematic of all is that there is no information about the “people long ago” or the culture or cultures from which these various names originated.

Trite text and overworked art detract from an interesting concept. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58536-965-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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An easy way to open up children’s eyes to girls around the world.

G MY NAME IS GIRL

A SONG OF CELEBRATION FROM ARGENTINA TO ZAMBIA

Riffing on a 1950s playground rhyme, this alphabet book uses the rhythm of “A, My Name Is Alice” but does not include the references to husbands and products.

Instead, the rhymes concentrate on pairs of girls or women—best friends, mothers and daughters, cousins, etc.—in an alphabetical list of countries around the world. These young women describe themselves and their female counterparts in positive and exciting ways: “I, my name is INDU, and my niece’s name is ISHANI. / We come from INDIA, and we are INVENTIVE.” The duo fly a large, handmade kite on a flat roof in an Indian city. The illustrations have an attractive, stylized paper-cut quality. The girls and women are diverse in skin tone and hair color. As usual in an alphabet book, X proves to be a problem, and the solution is a little clunky: “X, my name is AXELLE, and my nana’s name is MAXINE. / We come from LUXEMBOURG, and we are EXTRAORDINARY.” These two soar in a hang glider over a snowy landscape. A concluding double-page spread shows all the girls and women in a large courtyard, joyfully playing together. Readers could play a guessing game, remembering their names and countries. The countries include nations usually not mentioned, including Burkina Faso and Qatar, and the rear endpapers present a simple map of the continents with the girls’ faces keyed to their countries. Both features enhance learning opportunities. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 44.6% of actual size.)

An easy way to open up children’s eyes to girls around the world. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30404-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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