A wonderful springboard for cross-cultural understanding conveyed through deeply symbolic art.

NANA AKUA GOES TO SCHOOL

An open-hearted tribute to children with immigrant parents or grandparents.

Next Monday is Grandparents Day, and Zura, a brown-skinned girl of African descent, has a problem. Though excited, Zura worries about her classmates’ responses to Nana Akua, who has facial markings—a tradition of the Akan people of Ghana that identifies their tribal family. Sometimes in public, people have made negative comments and stared. When Zura tells Nana Akua her worries at home, Nana pulls out Zura’s favorite quilt, adorned with West African Adinkra symbols, and makes a plan to help Zura’s classmates understand her facial markings. On Grandparents Day, Nana and Zura wear African dresses, and Nana explains her markings, comparing them to tattoos. She invites the children to choose an Adinkra from the quilt, each of which has a meaning (explained on the endpapers), and they and their grandparents enjoy the personal introduction to Adinkras Nana gives them. Harrison contributes spectacular collage art that surrounds Zura’s family with colors, patterns, and objects, such as an African drum, pottery, art, and Black dolls, that connect them with West Africa. Harrison also illustrates a full page of Nana Akua’s face, gazing directly at readers. Her brown skin, full lips, gray eyebrows, tufts of gray hair at the edges of her head wrap, and her gorgeous purple, patterned fabrics all invite readers to see Nana Akua.

A wonderful springboard for cross-cultural understanding conveyed through deeply symbolic art. (glossary, sources, acknowledgements) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-58113-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more