Whether used as a read-aloud or a bridge between early readers and chapter books, a serene treat.

PINNY IN SUMMER

An agreeable young girl named Pinny enjoys her version of a perfect day near the sea.

Four extremely short chapters—generously illustrated with richly textured artwork—divide the tale, starting with “Pinny” and ending with “Pinny Has a Party.” The blonde, white girl skips along the shore, looking for a “wishing rock.” She accepts a skinned knee with equanimity, as it leads her to “the most perfect wishing rock she had ever seen.” Her contentment in solitude is matched by delight in her friends, a child with East Asian features and a white redhead. The three children enjoy blueberrying and cloud-gazing until a summer rain hastens them to their homes, with a promise of blueberry cake at Pinny’s home later that day. A sea gull enters and re-enters this gentle tale, in which adult humans are, happily, neither seen nor heard. Any children who have spent time in nature will relish the story, as will fans of such classics as One Morning in Maine. When a potentially dark moment arises in the final chapter, Pinny’s gracious, optimistic personality immediately turns clouds into sunshine. The tone of the book is sweet and reassuring, and the art perfectly catches the joy of pleasant, unstructured time. Particularly lovely: Pinny dancing around her kitchen upon completion of her blueberry cake.

Whether used as a read-aloud or a bridge between early readers and chapter books, a serene treat. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55498-782-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached.

EXTRA YARN

A little girl in a town of white snow and soot-blackened chimneys opens a small box and discovers a never-ending gift of colorful yarn.

Annabelle knits herself a sweater, and with the leftover yarn, she knits one for her dog, and with the yarn left over from that, she knits one for a neighbor and for her classmates and for her teacher and for her family and for the birdhouse and for the buildings in town. All and everything are warm, cozy and colorful until a clotheshorse of an archduke arrives. Annabelle refuses his monetary offers, whereupon the box is stolen. The greedy archduke gets his just deserts when he opens the box to find it empty. It wends its way back to Annabelle, who ends up happily sitting in a knit-covered tree. Klassen, who worked on the film Coraline, uses inks, gouache and colorized scans of a sweater to create a stylized, linear design of dark geometric shapes against a white background. The stitches of the sweaters add a subdued rainbow. Barnett entertained middle-grade readers with his Brixton Brothers detective series. Here, he maintains a folkloric narrative that results in a traditional story arc complete with repetition, drama and a satisfying conclusion.

A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-195338-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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