It’s not perfect, but it deserves solid consideration.

POPE FRANCIS

BUILDER OF BRIDGES

Otheguy presents a succinct chronicle of Pope Francis’ trajectory from his childhood in Buenos Aires to his papacy in Rome.

Straightforward storytelling reveals Jorge Bergoglio as a prayerful boy who loved soccer and learned about the goodness of all people from his grandma Rosa. As an adult, he became a Jesuit priest as part of his search to help people and eventually became the first South American and Jesuit pope in 2013. Otheguy successfully weaves Catholic concepts into the historical narrative, such as the election process for a new pope, and defines such potentially unfamiliar terms as “pontiff” while she underscores his care for prisoners, refugees, the planet, and children. Extensive backmatter, including a moving and personal author’s note and citations for the primary source quotations, elevates the historical content further. While the book succeeds in narration, it struggles in illustration. Depictions of Pope Francis are strong and realistic, but supporting characters, such as the cardinals, lack refinement. The book’s design is predictable: one or more paragraphs of text paired with Dominguez’s literal illustrations in acrylic, gouache, watercolor, ink, and pastel that bleed across the gutter. The overuse of jagged lines to represent sounds (think: ZAP! and POW! from 1960s TV Batman) is slightly tiresome; the figures’ gestures are enough to connote action. In spite of the shortfalls in illustration, this is an uplifting and solidly researched book about a significant world leader.

It’s not perfect, but it deserves solid consideration. (timeline, glossary, selected bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-560-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.

GRANDMA'S GARDENS

In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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The true meaning of the holiday season shines here.

RED AND GREEN AND BLUE AND WHITE

Kids teach a valuable lesson about community spirit.

A city block is ablaze with red and green lights for Christmas; one house glows blue and white for Hanukkah. This is where Isaac, a Jewish boy, lives, across the street from best friend Teresa, excitedly preparing for Christmas. They love lighting up their homes in holiday colors. After an antisemitic bigot smashes a window in Isaac’s house, Isaac relights the menorah the next night, knowing if his family doesn’t, it means hiding their Jewishness, which doesn’t “feel right.” Artistic Teresa supports Isaac by drawing a menorah, inscribed to her friend, and placing the picture in her window. What occurs subsequently is a remarkable demonstration of community solidarity for Isaac and his family from everyone, including the media. Galvanized into defiant action against hate, thousands of townspeople display menorahs in windows in residences and public buildings. This quiet, uplifting tale is inspired by an incident that occurred in Billings, Montana, in 1993. Readers will feel heartened at children’s power to influence others to stand up for justice and defeat vile prejudice. The colorful illustrations, rendered digitally with brushes of the artist’s devising, resemble scratch art. Isaac and Teresa are White, and there is some racial diversity among the townspeople; one child is depicted in a wheelchair. An author’s note provides information about the actual event.

The true meaning of the holiday season shines here. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64614-087-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Levine Querido

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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