A creative, child-centered picture book about finding a new home after immigration.

THE SHAPE OF HOME

Iranian immigrant Rashin is getting ready for her first day of school in the United States.

She begins her day with a series of cheerful shapes or memories of shapes that brought her happiness in Iran. For breakfast, her mother makes her a circular pancake shaped like a smiley face for good luck. When she walks to school in the rain, she uses an umbrella that is shaped like a cat, and she passes bicycle and car wheels shaped like circles. She starts to miss the shapes she knew from Iran, like the braided bread from the baker’s, the triangular sails of paper boats, and the heart-shaped wreaths her best friend, Azadeh, made from fresh blossoms. At school, the shape theme continues when Rashin’s new teacher, Mrs. Martin, tells them she is from Benin, which is shaped like a flashlight. Soon all the children are introducing their home countries and their shapes: Japan is shaped like a seahorse; Italy is shaped like a boot. And, of course, there’s Rashin’s own country, Iran, which she says is shaped like a cat. By the end of the day, Rashin is feeling a little better about going to school—and about calling America her home. This ebulliently illustrated, frankly told immigration story glows with good cheer and artfully balances homesickness, excitement, and fear. The author’s thematic use of shapes is an organic, child-friendly way to drive a plot that is both emotionally layered and fun to read. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A creative, child-centered picture book about finding a new home after immigration. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64614-098-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Levine Querido

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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