FU FINDS THE WAY

Westerners have long been fascinated with Eastern culture. Still, this tale of a boy whose accidental affront of a fierce warrior results in a challenge may struggle to find an enthusiastic audience. Fu is clearly a small boy with a big imagination. Pretending that his pet duck is a fierce dragon makes him careless in his planting and leads to a reprimand. Frustrated, Fu flings a handful of mud—right into warrior Chang’s face. Hoping for help, Fu visits the Master, who has trained many fighters. Rather than instruct him in swordplay, however, the Master teaches Fu how to pour tea with purpose, flow and patience. Miraculously, when they meet, Chang is so impressed by Fu’s mastery of the tea ceremony that the fight is forestalled. Rocco’s story flows smoothly and his illustrations are rich and appealing, varying full spreads with panels to tell the story. Sepia tones reinforce the story’s faraway feel; touches of humor add interest. Nonetheless, the ending feels flat and may not make sense to some young listeners. Best shared by an enlightened adult with a thoughtful child. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4231-0965-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2009

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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