Pedantic and, contrary to its goal, exoticizing.

YES I CAN!

A GIRL AND HER WHEELCHAIR

A girl who uses a wheelchair goes about her everyday life.

“This is Carolyn. Like many kids her age, Carolyn loves animals, castles, and building with blocks,” opens the text, revealing its aim of conveying to readers who do not use wheelchairs that a wheelchair-using girl is just like them. Carolyn “joins right in during reading time”—but why wouldn’t she? Discussions of ordinary pleasures, such as sitting next to a friend at lunch, and everyday adaptations—a school bus with an elevator “made just for wheelchairs!” (not for people using wheelchairs?)—end with exclamation marks. This forced positivity also applies to Carolyn’s mood. “Yes I can!” she repeats over and over (not in defense but supposedly out of pure enthusiasm), which makes her sound more like a political slogan than a kid. There’s lip service paid to disappointment and frustration, but everything springs back to that can-do spirit. Lemay’s children have big heads, tiny, skinny limbs, and good cheer. Carolyn is white or light-skinned, with straight, light-brown hair; her class is multiracial. The prose is mind-numbingly dull (“She is helpful to her mom and dad and even to her baby brother”); even a drop of characterization would serve readers better than this message to kids with and without wheelchairs that wheelchair users should keep everyone’s chins up, including their own. Backmatter directed to adults is awkward and, bizarrely, adds new information about Carolyn as if she were real.

Pedantic and, contrary to its goal, exoticizing. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4338-2869-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A shining affirmation of Chinese American identity.

I AM GOLDEN

An immigrant couple’s empowering love letter to their child.

Baby Mei rests in her parents’ embrace, flanked by Chinese architecture on one side and the New York skyline on the other. She will be a bridge across the “oceans and worlds and cultures” that separate her parents from their homeland, China. Mei—a Chinese word which means beautiful—shares a name with her family’s new home: Měi Guó (America). Her parents acknowledge the hypocrisy of xenophobia: “It’s a strange world we live in—people will call you different with one breath and then say that we all look the same with the next angry breath.” Mei will have the responsibility of being “teacher and translator” to her parents. They might not be able to completely shield her from racism, othering, and the pressures of assimilation, but they can reassure and empower her—and they do. Mei and young readers are encouraged to rely on the “golden flame” of strength, power, and hope they carry within them. The second-person narration adds intimacy to the lyrical text. Diao’s lovely digital artwork works in tandem with Chen’s rich textual imagery to celebrate Chinese culture, family history, and language. The illustrations incorporate touchstones of Chinese mythology and art—a majestic dragon, a phoenix, and lotus flowers—as well as family photographs. One double-page spread depicts a lineup of notable Chinese Americans. In the backmatter, Chen and Diao relay their own family stories of immigration. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A shining affirmation of Chinese American identity. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-84205-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.

THE THANKFUL BOOK

Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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