Anya isn’t the only kid who worries about being different on the first day; no matter how unique, though, readers are sure...

A TIGER TAIL

(OR WHAT HAPPENED TO ANYA ON HER FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL)

Anya doesn’t seem at all worried that it’s the start of a new school year, but the tiger tail she’s sprouted overnight is a huge cause for concern.

Her mom and dad just don’t understand her anxiety about it. Mom says “It brings out your fun, wild side,” and dad compares it to when he first got glasses. Obviously, she’ll have to find her own solution. But the tail will not come off and can’t be hidden. Her mother’s comments only serve to give Anya more ideas, but mom doesn’t buy that she’s sick, and dad sees missing the bus as a bonding opportunity. Just as she’s imagining a circus career, a boy with his nose stuck in a book bumps into her; this dislodges his baseball cap, which is hiding a pair of rabbit ears. And the class picture on the final spread reveals that a tiger tail isn’t so bad. In Boldt’s digital illustrations, Anya appears to be white and has a mane of reddish curls (the tail really does complement them nicely) that perfectly matches her freaked-out demeanor, and her facial expressions are masterful. Her classmates are diverse in every way and include a girl in a wheelchair, a kid wearing headphones, a boy sporting glasses, and a male teacher of color.

Anya isn’t the only kid who worries about being different on the first day; no matter how unique, though, readers are sure to find a niche to call their own. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4885-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture...

HAPPY DREAMER

Displaying his distinctive voice and images, Reynolds celebrates the joys and challenges of being a creative spirit.

“I am a HAPPY DREAMER,” cheers a thin, spiky-haired white boy as he flies skyward, streaming yellow swirls of sparkles. This little “dreamer maximus” piles on the energy with colors and noise and the joy-filled exuberance he has for life. “Wish you could HEAR inside my head / TRUMPETY, ZIGZAG JAZZ!” With clear honesty, he shares that the world tells him to be quiet, to focus and pay attention. Like a roller-coaster ride, Reynolds’ text and illustrations capture the energetic side of creativity and the gloom of cleaning up the messes that come with it while providing a wide vocabulary to describe emotional brilliance and resilience. The protagonist makes no apologies for expressing his feelings and embracing his distinct view of the world. This makes him happy. The book finishes with a question to readers: “What kind of dreamer are you?” Hinging outward, the double-page spread opens to four panels, each with a dozen examples of multiracial children being happy and being dreamers, showing inspiring possibilities for exploration. The best way, of course, is to “just BE YOU.”

A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-86501-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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