Though straining in spots, it has the offbeat, sweet style Jeffers’ fans know and love.

WHAT WE'LL BUILD

PLANS FOR OUR TOGETHER FUTURE

An adult and child gather tools and prepare for a future together.

Some things they build are rife with symbolism, such as a shelter to store what they value (including some “love” they set aside) and futures they build for each other, depicted as a series of items in blue and pink waves that spring from a wristwatch. Others are more concrete, like the fortress they build to repel “enemies,” whom they later invite in for tea and apologies. Some of what they build is fantastical (a road to the moon). The book is dedicated to the author’s daughter and is considered a companion piece to Here We Are, published in 2017 and dedicated to his son, though the pair here could still be interpreted as having a different type of caretaker-child relationship. Camaraderie between the two is the thematic focus in this affectionate narrative. Portions of the text’s meaning are somewhat vague (the two lie next to a fire that will “keep us warm like when we’re born”), and the rhyming text, with moments of inconsistent meter, occasionally feels forced. Jeffers fills the pages with an odd, giggle-inducing assortment of creatures; the duo’s former foes include a one-eyed pirate, a witch, a Viking, and (in a very poorly timed choice) a white-coated doctor with a surgical mask, and there are a friendly octopus and birds in space helmets. Adult and child both present White. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Though straining in spots, it has the offbeat, sweet style Jeffers’ fans know and love. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-20675-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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