This interactive guide to activism and its endearing protagonist both burst with energy.

RISE UP AND WRITE IT

WITH REAL MAIL, POSTERS, AND MORE!

Farah Patel is full of questions.

One day, she notices that her urban neighborhood is missing butterflies. When she asks why, Farah’s mother tells her that it’s because their community lacks greenery. When Farah and her mother pass an empty lot with a sign in front of it asking citizens to contact Mayor Khan with their ideas for it, Farah lands on the perfect plan: She and her neighbors could turn it into a community garden! Not only would this attract butterflies, it would also provide families with a local source of fresh fruits and vegetables. Farah writes to the mayor, but the mayor writes back saying that the plan is to turn the space into a parking lot. Determined to change this, Farah organizes her friends and neighbors to work together to advocate for a garden. This cheerfully illustrated picture book is the perfect beginner text for young activists, providing examples of kid-friendly actions, including writing letters to politicians, testifying at public meetings, and organizing rallies. The book contains cleverly designed pages shaped like envelopes that contain removable samples of letters, petitions, and protest signs that kids can use as templates for their own community-based action. The book’s language is both clear and empowering—never preachy—and the plot moves quickly. Farah is South Asian, and in Syed’s art, her neighborhood reflects the ideal of American diversity.

This interactive guide to activism and its endearing protagonist both burst with energy. (Picture book/novelty. 3-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-302959-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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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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