Enigmatic, if not outright disjointed, and not well-served by these visuals.

MARGARET WISE BROWN'S MANNERS

Previously unpublished reflections on behavior, amplified and exemplified in new illustrations featuring a cast of cute, small characters.

Slater’s recurrent cast of diversely colored figures with human bodies and outsized animal heads reduces Brown’s terse but nuanced text to superficial contrasts between polite and rude acts. The confusion begins with the opening “There is a way to say hello / and a way not to say hello”—which, like most of the similarly patterned following lines, could be interpreted several ways. Here the meaning is supposedly demonstrated by a wolf who is studiously reading and a bird looking at its wristwatch; both are made to seem rude by not acknowledging a rabbit’s greeting. Why should the rabbit, who is interrupting, be the one in the right? Later contrasts prescribe, for instance, ways to hold and not hold tableware, to “go up to a dog,” and “to make people like you” or “not to make people like you” (this last involving a group of rowdy campers on the ostensibly positive side and someone trying to sleep calling for “Quiet!” on the negative). Finally, whether the title is Brown’s or not, her final line (assuming it wasn’t just a place holder in the manuscript) suggests that she originally had more than rules of etiquette in mind: “There is a way to be yourself.”

Enigmatic, if not outright disjointed, and not well-served by these visuals. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93973-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Golden Books/Random

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

AARON SLATER, ILLUSTRATOR

From the Questioneers series

The latest book in the Questioneer series centers an African American boy who has dyslexia.

Roberts’ characteristic cartoon illustrations open on a family of six that includes two mothers of color, children of various abilities and racial presentations, and two very amused cats. In a style more expressive and stirring than other books in the series, Beaty presents a boy overcoming insecurities related to reading comprehension. Like Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas, the boy’s namesake, the protagonist loves to draw. More than drawing, however, young Aaron wishes to write, but when he tries to read, the letters appear scrambled (effectively illustrated with a string of wobbly, often backward letters that trail across the pages). The child retreats into drawing. After an entire school year of struggle, Aaron decides to just “blend in.” At the beginning of the next school year, a writing prompt from a new teacher inspires Aaron, who spends his evening attempting to write “a story. Write something true.” The next day in class, having failed to put words on paper, Aaron finds his voice and launches into a story that shows how “beauty and kindness and loving and art / lend courage to all with a welcoming heart.” In the illustration, a tableau of colorful mythological beings embodies Aaron’s tale. The text is set in a dyslexia-friendly type. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Empathetic art and lyrical text blend for a touching and empowering tale. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5396-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more