THE STORY OF YOU

This picture book frames the actions one takes in life as a person’s story and encourages readers to write theirs well.

“You’re writing a story / with everything you do. / What’s this story about? / It’s the story of you!” So begins this inspirational poem matched with images of diverse children doing all sorts of activities and making decisions that add to their stories. Using social examples, like being kind and fair or sharing, as well as individual examples like trying something new and exploring, the text places the power in the individual’s hands. A turn in tone reminds readers that when they face moral dilemmas or feel shy or angry, they are still writing their stories. Without telling readers how to proceed, it highlights those moments of consequential decision-making. The text and powerful close-up imagery also elevate choices to do the brave thing or the right thing when it’s not easy—“when you’re scared, but speak up”—as important story-writing moments. Joyful, innocently smiling children of various racial presentations and physical abilities play sports, dance, make art, protest, and play in pastel-hued illustrations that alternate among vignettes, full-page portraits, and double-page scenes. The rhyming stanzas make this an enjoyable read, and the unique but simple concept offers a thoughtful way to begin ongoing discussions about choices with young people. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A message worth sharing. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63592-311-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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