HOLES IN THE SKY

Trisha looks for signs from her grandmother in the sky but finds them closer than expected.

Trisha’s comfortably zaftig Russian grandmother tells her that stars are really “holes in the sky,” with the light of heaven gleaming through them. She says that she will be there soon but will watch over them, and she will send a sign to let them know. After Babushka dies, Trisha’s all-white family moves to the diverse city of Oakland, California, and Trisha becomes best friends with a black boy named Stewart. Stewart brings Trisha home to meet his grandmother Eula, a woman who cooks and gardens and whose shape echoes Babushka’s. Miss Eula mentions that Verna Bacci’s garden used to be the most beautiful on the block, before she lost her son in a terrible accident. The three of them decide to do something nice for Miss Verna, and the whole neighborhood pitches in. While Trisha has been searching the sky every night for a sign from Babushka, Miss Verna gets a sign from her son that they all can see. In the end, Miss Eula dabs vanilla behind Trisha’s ears just like Babushka used to, and Trisha realizes that her sign has been right in front of her. Polacco’s signature illustration style in sketched pencil and color emphasizes the relationships among people, just as the text celebrates the power of connection and the miracle of love in unexpected places.

Sweet and comforting. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3948-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale.

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AARON SLATER, ILLUSTRATOR

From the Questioneers series

The latest book in the Questioneer series centers an African American boy who has dyslexia.

Roberts’ characteristic cartoon illustrations open on a family of six that includes two mothers of color, children of various abilities and racial presentations, and two very amused cats. In a style more expressive and stirring than other books in the series, Beaty presents a boy overcoming insecurities related to reading comprehension. Like Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas, the boy’s namesake, the protagonist loves to draw. More than drawing, however, young Aaron wishes to write, but when he tries to read, the letters appear scrambled (effectively illustrated with a string of wobbly, often backward letters that trail across the pages). The child retreats into drawing. After an entire school year of struggle, Aaron decides to just “blend in.” At the beginning of the next school year, a writing prompt from a new teacher inspires Aaron, who spends his evening attempting to write “a story. Write something true.” The next day in class, having failed to put words on paper, Aaron finds his voice and launches into a story that shows how “beauty and kindness and loving and art / lend courage to all with a welcoming heart.” In the illustration, a tableau of colorful mythological beings embodies Aaron’s tale. The text is set in a dyslexia-friendly type. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5396-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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