Riley’s courageous vulnerability is refreshing, fun, and worthy of celebration.

WHAT RILEY WORE

Is Riley a girl or a boy? Riley decides to answer an entirely different question through the creative self-expression of their clothing.

Each day of the week, Riley invents a new outfit to wear to school, around the house, and to the park. The tan-skinned, dark-haired protagonist has clothing for every mood and occasion: a bunny suit for first-day-of-school shyness, “a superhero cape to the dentist’s because teeth cleaning is scary,” and a tutu, perfectly mismatched with a dinosaur hat, for the weekend. Instead of making Riley a target of bullies, the gender-fluid ensembles draw their classmates in. Heartwarmingly, Arnold and Davick depict the spectacularly nongendered protagonist in positive connection with the people around them. Children are at the center of this colorful story: Adults, when they appear, mostly line the periphery of Davick’s double-page–spread illustrations while classmates of various skin tones are featured in cheerful detail. In the growing landscape of children’s books that explore gender, this offering beautifully normalizes the multifaceted gender expressions people can have, demonstrates the support adults can provide to nonbinary children, and models how easily young ones can relate to one another without having to choose between two gender options. Though Riley’s gender identity is never explicitly stated in the narrative, Arnold and Davick’s entertaining tale speaks volumes about the creativity of nonbinary kids.

Riley’s courageous vulnerability is refreshing, fun, and worthy of celebration. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7260-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more