A disappointingly vague tale of achievement in the face of low expectations.

PABLO PINEDA

BEING DIFFERENT IS A VALUE

From the What Really Matters series

Bosch and Sala relate the accomplishments of Pablo Pineda, a white Spanish boy who became the first European with Down syndrome to graduate from university.

In an awkward framing device, an anonymous child relates to readers what a teacher told a class about Pineda. After Pineda’s parents learned he had Down syndrome (which is described not as a developmental disability but as “special abilities”), they insisted on encouraging his independence and sending him to mainstream schools. In high school, his humor won him friends despite occasional teasing, and he graduated as “the best student in his year.” Despite loneliness, he attended university and obtained a teaching degree. Pineda’s skill with language netted him further work as a speaker, author, and award-winning actor. Pineda is seldom depicted without a book, emphasizing his desire to learn. However, the simple text literally and figuratively pales against Álvarez’s color-saturated pastel illustrations; on dark backgrounds, the words are barely visible. Though Pineda’s accomplishments and strong positive influences offer encouragement, the breezy assertion that he “didn’t believe anything was impossible, and simply achieved his goals” somewhat glosses over the work such achievements required. Readers struggling with learning difficulties, in particular, may be left wanting more concrete details of how he achieved those goals.

A disappointingly vague tale of achievement in the face of low expectations. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-84-16733-23-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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