Powerful in its vulnerability.

TOUGH LIKE MUM

Kim is tough, just like her mum.

But today Mum’s staying in bed, with the blanket wrapped tightly around her. Kim pulls her thumb out of her mouth (before Mum can see it there) and gets up to start the day. She prepares her lunch bag and checks her homework. Almost ready. But Mum forgot to sign Kim’s field-trip form! “Don’t start on me, Kim!” says Mum, who’s still curled up in bed. What can Kim do? Grab some spare change for the field trip. Not enough to cover the $6, but “maybe Mrs. Jones won’t notice.” The school day brings its pleasures and pains—Mrs. Jones does call out the incomplete form—but Kim keeps her composure, like Mum seems to do. Returning home, Kim sees that Mum’s “at the table wearing what she slept in last night.” Maybe some tomato soup can help. “Eat. You’ll feel better,” insists Kim. It’s a small gesture, but it finally cuts through the gloom that surrounds her mum. Button elevates these tender moments thanks to a keen sense of compassion for her characters, underlining that even the most seemingly mundane moments can have an impact. Buried within this showcase of a loving mother-daughter relationship is the potential catharsis of grappling with accepting help. Mok’s compassionate gouache artwork—full of muted colors, gently curving lines, and arresting facial expressions—enfolds this tale in its earnest embrace. Mostly light-skinned characters fill out the cast, including Kim and her mum. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 82% of actual size.)

Powerful in its vulnerability. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6598-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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