A charming, rhyming picture book designed to inspire.

ONE GIRL

While sitting outside her home one night, a forlorn little girl is surprised by a book that falls from the sky.

Glowing like a shooting star, the book lands at her feet. When she opens it, the pages transport her to a whimsical, imaginary land full of possibility. The girl is so enamored with the book that she takes it to school and shares it with her classmates. Inspired by what she’s read, the girl begins to write her own, original story. Swept up in the magic she has created, the girl’s classmates start reading—and, in one case, writing—books of their own. Eventually the first girl’s words take flight, shimmering as they circle the Earth and land at the homes of other children who, presumably, will be inspired to find their voices. Beaty’s rhyming text is charmingly sparse: each word is carefully chosen, and the language glimmers with precision. Much of the story is told by Phumiruk’s gorgeous illustrations, which not only feature a protagonist who appears to be Asian, but also children with diverse skin tones and hair textures; all the children appear to be wearing school uniforms. While the words and pictures work in synchrony, creating a lyrical call to action encouraging children to find their voices and, simultaneously, their inner strength, the plot itself is abstract and widely open to interpretation, such that the book reads more like a poem than a traditional story. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 60.6% of actual size.)

A charming, rhyming picture book designed to inspire. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1905-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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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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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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