A perfect package of early-reader accessibility, culturally-conscious story, and inclusivity.

THE PERFECT GIFT

From the Confetti Kids series

Welcome to a new-baby book for new readers.

Yoo’s controlled text in this Confetti Kids entry is appropriately divided into short chapters that will support emergent readers’ success. It also celebrates cultural specificity by centering Mei’s character and her Chinese-American family’s party to celebrate that her baby brother, Ming, is 100 days old. A diverse group of friends, whom readers may recognize from earlier titles, attends the party: Henry, Lily, Pablo, and Padma, who, between naming conventions and Ng-Benitez’s appealing watercolor and digital illustrations, are cued as white, black, Latinx, and South Asian, respectively. The tension in the story stems from Mei’s struggle to determine the titular “perfect gift” for the baby. Illustrations provide context for how her friends try to help, such as when Padma points to a little boy with a truck and says “Boys like trucks,” to suggest a gift for Ming. Henry, playing a drum on the front stoop, contradicts her: “I don’t like trucks…I like to play music,” and suggests that Mei should buy a drum. Grandma, whose character integrates information about traditions for the 100-days party, advises Mei that “The perfect gift comes from the heart,” and this inspires Mei to make a special book for her little brother.

A perfect package of early-reader accessibility, culturally-conscious story, and inclusivity. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62014-567-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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Heartfelt content for children who need to feel seen.

BEING YOU

Words addressed to children aimed at truth-telling, encouraging, and inspiring are accompanied by pictures of children of color going about their days.

“This story is about you,” the narrator opens, as a black boy looks up toward readers, a listening expression on his face. A multiracial group of children romp in a playground to encouraging words: “you are… / a dancer / a singer / in charge of the game.” Then comes a warning about the “whispers” out in the world that “tell you who you are / But only you and love decide.” There is advice about what to do when you “think there is nowhere safe”: “Watch a bird soar / and think, / Me too.” It asks readers to wonder: “If there was a sign on your chest / what would it say?” Children argue and show frustration and anger for reasons unclear to readers, then they hold up signs about themselves, such as “I am powerful” and “I am talented.” A girl looks hurt, and a boy looks “tough” until someone finds them “sitting there wondering / when the sky will blue.” While the words are general, the pictures specify a teacher, who is brown-skinned with straight black hair, as one who “can see you.” While young readers may find the wording unusual, even obscure in places, the nurturing message will not be lost.

Heartfelt content for children who need to feel seen. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-021-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Wise and sometimes a bit wacky literary advice for the intergenerational family.

HOW TO READ TO A GRANDMA OR GRANDPA

From the How To... series

A pair of savvy grandchildren provides inspiration for family reading with their grandparents.

Like all good reading advocates, the children have thought of everything: where and how to choose books, where and when to read, and how to savor the good or not-so-good parts by rereading, discussion, and even acting out dramatic or humorous scenes. Overall, this double pair of siblings and perceptively keen elders ably models a love of reading. Amusing and endearing cartoon drawings colorfully depict a variety of other reading bonuses, such as book-inspired garden-bug investigations, science experiments, and moonlit backyard snuggles. Of course many of today’s grandparents are regularly involved in the care and nurturing of their grandkids, and many aspects of reading together are entertained, including silly ones like reading under the bed with a grandpa or a shared reading with long-distance grandparents via video chat. Making books part of everyday life is a steady message throughout. Within this quartet, the grandma has pale brown skin and the grandpa appears white, and one child’s skin is slightly lighter than the other’s.

Wise and sometimes a bit wacky literary advice for the intergenerational family. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-0193-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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