A murky timeline plus a bland text make for an insubstantial read.

YOU KNOW HOW TO LOVE

An idyllic sojourn in a leafy park alongside the water serves as the setting for a poem about friendship and sharing.

The gentle line-and-color paintings, full of children and adults engaged in many activities, obliquely illuminate the well-meaning but clichéd poetic text. The four-line rhyming stanzas read like so many other works of this type: “Deep in your heart, / the knowing is there. / You know how to love, / and you know how to care.” The pages hold adventures for the children, as viewers follow a small brown-skinned tot in a blue-and-white shirt through the pictures. Judging by the child’s growth from a babe in arms, some years elapse, but neither the child’s outfit nor the seasons change—a disorienting visual choice. Characters of many ages and racial presentations, as well as some with visible disabilities, mark the diversity that is central to the theme of loving kindness as they all play games and frolic. The child in the striped shirt helps a White-presenting kid who slips. Rain starts to fall, but then a rainbow appears and all is well again. A different child with beige skin doesn’t want to share a kite with the brown-skinned protagonist, but the poem explains that “Not everyone feels like it / every day.” A lovely two-page spread ends the book with everyone floating paper boats on the water. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 29.5% of actual size.)

A murky timeline plus a bland text make for an insubstantial read. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11457-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A shining affirmation of Chinese American identity.

I AM GOLDEN

An immigrant couple’s empowering love letter to their child.

Baby Mei rests in her parents’ embrace, flanked by Chinese architecture on one side and the New York skyline on the other. She will be a bridge across the “oceans and worlds and cultures” that separate her parents from their homeland, China. Mei—a Chinese word which means beautiful—shares a name with her family’s new home: Měi Guó (America). Her parents acknowledge the hypocrisy of xenophobia: “It’s a strange world we live in—people will call you different with one breath and then say that we all look the same with the next angry breath.” Mei will have the responsibility of being “teacher and translator” to her parents. They might not be able to completely shield her from racism, othering, and the pressures of assimilation, but they can reassure and empower her—and they do. Mei and young readers are encouraged to rely on the “golden flame” of strength, power, and hope they carry within them. The second-person narration adds intimacy to the lyrical text. Diao’s lovely digital artwork works in tandem with Chen’s rich textual imagery to celebrate Chinese culture, family history, and language. The illustrations incorporate touchstones of Chinese mythology and art—a majestic dragon, a phoenix, and lotus flowers—as well as family photographs. One double-page spread depicts a lineup of notable Chinese Americans. In the backmatter, Chen and Diao relay their own family stories of immigration. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A shining affirmation of Chinese American identity. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-84205-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.

THE THANKFUL BOOK

Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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