Plants are pretty but passive, and it’s doubtful many readers will find them meaningful stand-ins for parenting.

I'M GLAD THAT YOU'RE HAPPY

A smiling plant narrates its life story, beginning the day that it is potted.

It is a happy moment when Mr. Florist holds a big green plant who shares its pot with a smaller plant. They live an idyllic existence in a flower shop filled to overflowing with many beautifully colored blooms. Customers happily sniff their ways through the selections. Then there’s more joy as a man with a garden takes them home, one that is filled with other plants and with many paintings of even more plants. They, the plants, are not passive observers but share in the good times and the bad. Then comes change—necessary but so traumatic. The smaller plant needs more space for its own roots. It is a move for the better, and once it’s done the bigger plant is oh so happy. Their future is full of birds singing and children playing. Perhaps this is a story about how to grow plants, but more likely it’s intended as a parable about parenting, nurturing, and letting go while maintaining bonds. The Iranian-born author and artist, who now lives in Canada, tells her tale of child-rearing with a positive and fairly glowing feeling of all-around goodness. She uses pastels, colored pencils, and collage in an impressionistic palette that gives her words an almost dreamy setting. Her characters are all white.

Plants are pretty but passive, and it’s doubtful many readers will find them meaningful stand-ins for parenting. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77306-122-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A sweet story highlighting nonromantic love during the Valentine season.

THE HOUSE OF LOVE

In a big, old house on a snowy hill, the Amore family of nine celebrates Valentine's Day.

Mia Valentina, the youngest family member, and Mama clean the house and decorate for the Amores’ favorite holiday. Then Mia’s mother helps her make thoughtful but funny valentines for her 6 siblings. When Papa and the rest of the clan return home from a basketball game, Mia’s siblings get a kick out of their valentines, and Papa presents Mama with chocolate cherry cordials, but no one gives Mia a gift. While the family has dinner and plays games, Mia’s sadness seemingly goes unnoticed. It’s not until bedtime that she makes a discovery that chases away her gloom. The pages of this book are text-heavy, making it a good springboard for young readers making the transition to chapter books. The light pink pages, cheerful illustrations, and homespun authenticity of the text will appeal to children. The cozy Appalachian mountain setting shines through. Crafty types will glean inspiration to create a gumdrop tree, custom valentines, or themed cupcakes. Mentions of an antique washing machine and patched-up windows establish the Amores as a working-class family. The old house and large family could be read as standard storybook fare or, by more critical readers, as a romanticized image of rural life, and the didactic ending feels old-fashioned. The Amores are White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet story highlighting nonromantic love during the Valentine season. (Illustrated text. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20331-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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