This quietly powerful family story encourages children to use both voices and hands to advocate for change.

LUBAYA'S QUIET ROAR

Activism comes in many forms.

Lubaya prefers sitting quietly to speaking up in class, even when she knows the answer. She’s often picked last for soccer, but she doesn’t mind because before the game ends, Lubaya has wandered off, absorbed in daydreaming. This might be the story of a neurodivergent child, or Lubaya might just be introverted and introspective. She plays well with her brother, Jelani, but even he cannot hold her attention through a video game. One thing Lubaya spends time on, though, is creating artwork on the back sides of her family’s protest signs, saved from a march and bearing messages like “We Are One Earth” and “Peace.” When alarming events air on the TV news, Lubaya’s parents hold her and Jelani close and tell them it’s time to march again, giving Lubaya’s posters a second life. At the march, Lubaya—whose Swahili name means “young lioness” according to a closing note—adds her voice and her artwork to the protest, amplifying the power of the marchers’ messages with her hand-drawn images. Williamson’s textured illustrations, created in oil paint and crayon, feature bright colors and vibrant backgrounds and represent well the visible diversity of people of color, even for members of the same family. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-21-inch double-page spreads viewed at 27.6% of actual size.)

This quietly powerful family story encourages children to use both voices and hands to advocate for change. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-55555-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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