Moral: It’s never too early to learn to stand up for yourself or others in the face of injustice.

GET UP, STAND UP

A simple modification of famous lyrics to spread an anti-bullying message that is as necessary today as on the day the song that inspired it was released.

In her third picture book offering that uses one of her father’s songs as inspiration, Cedella Marley (Every Little Thing, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, 2012, etc.) touches on the topics of bullying and ostracism and on the courage it takes to combat them. She delivers a statement about social justice and bravery in an appropriately simple style that children can grasp. The result is a message of empowerment and unity: that standing up for yourself inspires others to do the same and may help to bring people together rather than continue a practice of exclusion and belittling. It is very much in keeping with the import of Bob Marley’s words in the song of the same name. Vibrant illustrations from Cabuay show a diverse cast of children, which will certainly help with accessibility to children from all walks of life. He depicts children getting up and standing up at the bus stop and on the bus, on city streets, and in parks. The final joyous double-page spread finds a joyous, multiracial crowd joining a neighborhood festival above which flies a flag depicting the late musician and the legend “One Love.”

Moral: It’s never too early to learn to stand up for yourself or others in the face of injustice. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-452-17172-2

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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