This quirky kid and his loving family will instantly endear themselves to readers.

GREEN PANTS

A little boy has a big decision to make when asked to be in his cousin’s wedding.

In a story in which all key characters are depicted as people of color with brown skin and varied hair textures, Jameson is a brown boy who loves his green pants. He wears them daily and resists others’ attempts to get him to wear pants of different colors. Softly textured watercolor-and-pencil illustrations inject humor into his resistance by showing Jameson throwing pants of various hues out the window, depicting a dog with red pants on its hind legs, and showing a pair of blue pants flying atop a flag pole. But Jameson’s devotion to his green pants (which make him feel that he “could do anything”) creates conflict when his cousin’s fiancee, Jo, whom Jameson adores, asks him to be in their wedding. He agrees but is aghast when his mother explains he must wear a tuxedo with black pants. He agonizes over the decision until the wedding day, when he sees Jo at the church, and his devotion to her overrides his attachment to green pants. It’s a glorious day with a satisfying ending that shows Jameson stripping off his black tuxedo pants to reveal green ones before he tears up the dance floor. Kraegel’s text displays deep respect for both children’s quirks and their right to those quirks, Jameson’s mother over and over reinforcing for him that the decision (be in the wedding with black pants or in the congregation with green ones) is his.

This quirky kid and his loving family will instantly endear themselves to readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8840-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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