Black girl magic to the moon and back.

IMPOSSIBLE MOON

If Mable can touch the moon, what else might she be able to do?

Mable, presenting as Black with long brown hair, has always loved the stories Grana tells her. However, Grana is now sick, and “it seems impossible she will ever get better.” One day, while Mable pores over her “moon maps,” Grana notes that if human beings can reach the moon, then nothing is impossible. That night, Mable dreams of flying to the moon. She launches from her bed-turned-trampoline and sails through the night sky. There, she sees a drinking gourd, a lion, a giant dog, a set of twins, a man pouring water, an archer who shoots her toward the moon, and a group of seven sisters who comfort her when she just misses it. When she wakes up, Mable tells Grana about her journey. Grana, now sitting up in bed when it was impossible before, tells Mable what a great storyteller she is. Encouraged by Grana’s step toward recovery, Mable goes to bed that night determined to finally touch the moon and perhaps make the impossible possible for Grana. Engel’s vivid, textured illustrations are spectacular. The stunning washes of blue, violet, aqua, pink, and gold play well with the dreamy theme. The backmatter consists of an author’s note about the impetus for the book and a description of the seven constellations depicted therein. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Black girl magic to the moon and back. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7897-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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A full-hearted valentine.

THIS IS A SCHOOL

A soaring panegyric to elementary school as a communal place to learn and grow.

“This is a kid,” Schu begins. “This is a kid in a class. This is a class in a hall….” If that class—possibly second graders, though they could be a year to either side of that—numbers only about a dozen in Jamison’s bright paintings, it makes up for that in diversity, with shiny faces of variously brown or olive complexion well outnumbering paler ones; one child using a wheelchair; and at least two who appear to be Asian. (The adult staff is likewise racially diverse.) The children are individualized in the art, but the author’s narrative is addressed more to an older set of readers as it runs almost entirely to collective nouns and abstract concepts: “We share. We help. / This is a community, growing.” Younger audiences will zero in on the pictures, which depict easily recognizable scenes of both individual and collective learning and play, with adults and classmates always on hand to help out or join in. Signs of conflict are unrealistically absent, but an occasional downcast look does add a bit of nuance to the general air of eager positivity on display. A sad face at an apartment window with a comment that “[s]ometimes something happens, and we can’t all be together” can be interpreted as an oblique reference to pandemic closings, but the central message here is that school is a physical space, not a virtual one, where learning and community happen. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A full-hearted valentine. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0458-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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