This sweet story of friendship is sure to win over even the grumpiest of listeners.

SWASHBY AND THE SEA

Old Capt. Swashby’s peaceful seaside home is disturbed when a gregarious little girl and her granny move into the once-empty house next door.

The only neighbor Capt. Swashby has ever wanted was his old friend the sea, so when new neighbors began to take over the beach—and even Swashby’s deck—without permission, he leaves a message in the sand for the interlopers that reads, “NO TRESPASSING.” The sea “fiddle[s]” with Swashby’s message and washes away most of the letters, leaving the word “SING,” which the little girl does “while dancing up and down [along] Swashby’s deck.” It changes two other unwelcoming messages to invitations for the girl and her granny to “W_ISH” upon a starfish and “PL_AY” in the sand. Then, after building a sand castle (following Capt. Swashby’s grouchily delivered advice), the girl is washed out to sea—to be rescued by the old salt, beginning a wholehearted friendship. The feeling of place is solidified by Martinez-Neal’s use of color, which breathes the life into this story; the muted beige, blue, and turquoise palette is perfect for a beach tale. The cantankerous old coot is depicted as a white man with an enormous gray beard while the girl and her granny are depicted with brown skin, exuberant Afros, and enormous spectacles.

This sweet story of friendship is sure to win over even the grumpiest of listeners. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-70737-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side.

TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE KID

A boy gets an unusual payoff after wishing on a star.

Sitting outside one night, Clyde notices a lone star in the sky. He recites the “Star light, star bright” incantation and makes a wish. Disappointed when it doesn’t come true, he returns home. But later, while he’s asleep, the star he’d wished on sneaks into his bedroom and makes a wish on him! Startled awake, Clyde wonders how to grant Star’s wish. He shares some ideas (and actual objects) with her: a game of checkers, tent camping, tossing a Frisbee, and walkie-talkies. Star likes them, but they’re not her wishes; Clyde confides there’s no one to enjoy them with—and wonders if perhaps Star had wished for a friend. No one will be surprised at what Clyde next confesses to Star. The pair winds up playing together and becoming besties. This is a sweet but thin and predictable story about making friends. Still, readers will appreciate meeting feisty, celestial Star. The author reaches for humor using colloquialisms (“freaked out”), and kids will like the comfortable familiarity that develops between the cheery protagonists. The colored-pencil illustrations are rendered in a limited palette of mostly dark blues and purples, appropriate to the nighttime setting. Star is a luminous, pale yellow with a white topknot and has a star-dappled aura around her. Purple-pj’d Clyde wears bunny slippers and presents White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-17132-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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