A feel-good picture book about diversity, family relationships, and self-love.

HAIR TWINS

In this book, an unnamed Sikh girl describes the way she and her father take care of their hair.

In accordance with Sikh tradition, the narrator and her father both wear their dark hair long. The narrator describes how her father helps her comb her hair, using coconut oil to detangle it. Some days, she says, he plaits her hair into two long braids just like her grandmother’s. Other days, he twists it into a bun that matches his own, and the two become the titular “hair twins.” When the protagonist comes home from school, she lets her hair out and dances with her father, enjoying her long, free tresses. Afterward, the father ties the girl’s hair into one long braid while he ties a turban on his head. The story ends with the girl and her father going to the park to meet the girl’s friends and their families, all of whom have their own varied hairstyles and family structures—a conclusion that reinforces the book’s celebration of all types of hair, bodies, and people. Hatam’s illustrations are both child friendly and clever, incorporating symbolism from the text into fanciful pictures that burst with pride and joy. The lyrical text is both accessible and poetic, and the narratorial voice has a sincerity and enthusiasm that make it a delight to read. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 42.6 % of actual size.)

A feel-good picture book about diversity, family relationships, and self-love. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49530-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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