A gentle story about connection that will connect with readers of all ages.

I AM A BIRD

True understanding comes from a willingness to look deeper.

In an idyllic seaside community rendered in soft colored pencil and bright paint, a young child flies to school on the back of Daddy’s bike. Both present Asian. Arms stretched wide, the child expresses joy and exclaims, “I am a bird.” Singing an exuberant bird song—“CA-CAW! CA-CAW!”—the smiling and waving narrator spreads happiness along the way. Along their route, passersby smile and wave in return, and even the birds sing back. One day, the child spots an older, White woman in a blue coat and carrying a big bag; she is walking past a mural painted with toothy animals and does not wave and smile. The predatory animals depicted in the mural openly gape at the woman throughout the story, manifesting the child’s growing dislike as they see her again, day after day. Soon, the child’s bird song stops whenever the woman is spotted. One day they are running late, and the child does not see the woman until catching a glance of her in a park. She is surrounded by birds, whispering her own bird song, and the child has an epiphany. In the final double-page spread, the child and woman reflect each other with raised heads and closed eyes as they find they are the same: “We are birds.” The soft, textured illustrations expertly pair with the understated text and its beautifully simple, implicit message to look closer before jumping to conclusions. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.1-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 25.2% of actual size.)

A gentle story about connection that will connect with readers of all ages. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0891-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Sincere and wholehearted.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more