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JUST HELP! by Sonia Sotomayor


How To Build a Better World

by Sonia Sotomayor ; illustrated by Angela Dominguez

Pub Date: Jan. 25th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-593-20626-3
Publisher: Philomel

Young readers learn the value of being helpful.

Every morning, while Sonia (a character who is clearly a young version of Sotomayor herself) eats breakfast, her mother, a nurse, asks “How will you help today?” Sonia, who wants to assist in making her community better and safer, always does her best to have a good answer for Mami. Sonia decides to volunteer to make care packages for American soldiers. She also helps other kids at her school with their various service projects. Readers see how children and adults in Sonia’s neighborhood work together to recycle, clean up a park, donate items to a children’s hospital, and mobilize voters on Election Day. Written by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and inspired by her own childhood, this picture book depicting a cooperative, socially conscious, multicultural neighborhood is nice enough but nothing more. The text is perfectly inoffensive, and the artwork is pleasant, but the narrative never truly inspires or moves beyond a preachy approach that kids will quickly sniff out as patronizing. Well-meaning Democratic voters will purchase this for the children in their lives, who will smile appreciatively before eventually depositing the book in their local Little Free Library six months later. Sonia and Mami are Latinx with light brown skin. Secondary characters are diverse racially and agewise and include wheelchair users and a hijabi girl. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A picture book that at least helps fill the time.

(Picture book. 6-8)