Moody contemplation made engaging with luminous artwork.

A SHELTER FOR SADNESS

A child tends to their sadness.

“I am building a shelter for my sadness and welcoming it inside,” declares a skinny White child with brown hair. They begin to pile sticks in a clearing, surrounded by tall, thin tree trunks rich with twinkling lights. Illuminating the scene in a pale teal glow is their sadness, an oval-shaped cluster of sketch lines that might be mistaken for Humpty Dumpty’s ghost. Throughout, forest and light frame the sadness as its human caretaker “giv[es] it a space” to do “anything it needs to.” It can be loud or quiet, it can run or stand still, it can sit in darkness or light, “or anything in between.” It can even “breath in” (a regrettable typo) the smell of roses that bloom around the shelter that the child lovingly maintains. The sadness is as cute as a pensive figure can be, and the decorative whimsy of Litchfield’s illustrations softens the melancholy. Psychologically, it seems useful and healthy to visualize compassion and acceptance toward one’s own feelings, and these meditative scenes provide gentle emotional prompts in that direction. Still, the metaphor plods on a bit longer than is compelling; by the time the child starts visiting their sadness every day with tea, the point feels belabored beyond meaning. The pair’s final walk into the sunset reinforces the complex, necessary idea that beautiful and difficult emotions can coexist.

Moody contemplation made engaging with luminous artwork. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68263-339-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children.

AN ABC OF EQUALITY

Social-equity themes are presented to children in ABC format.

Terms related to intersectional inequality, such as “class,” “gender,” “privilege,” “oppression,” “race,” and “sex,” as well as other topics important to social justice such as “feminism,” “human being,” “immigration,” “justice,” “kindness,” “multicultural,” “transgender,” “understanding,” and “value” are named and explained. There are 26 in all, one for each letter of the alphabet. Colorful two-page spreads with kid-friendly illustrations present each term. First the term is described: “Belief is when you are confident something exists even if you can’t see it. Lots of different beliefs fill the world, and no single belief is right for everyone.” On the facing page it concludes: “B is for BELIEF / Everyone has different beliefs.” It is hard to see who the intended audience for this little board book is. Babies and toddlers are busy learning the names for their body parts, familiar objects around them, and perhaps some basic feelings like happy, hungry, and sad; slightly older preschoolers will probably be bewildered by explanations such as: “A value is an expression of how to live a belief. A value can serve as a guide for how you behave around other human beings. / V is for VALUE / Live your beliefs out loud.”

Adults will do better skipping the book and talking with their children. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-742-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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