Rocket’s fans will enjoy this can-do kid’s return.

ROCKET SAYS CLEAN UP!

Rocket is back with an environmentally friendly message.

Series predecessor Rocket Says Look Up! (2019) encouraged readers to fix their imaginations on the stars. This sequel helps them to focus more terrestrially, on ocean pollution. With cool blues and warm and sandy tans, Adeola’s cheery illustrations offer a brightly hued contrast to the previous book. Rocket is a brown-skinned girl with cornrows billowing into two perfectly coiffed afro puffs. She, her mother, and her brother, Jamal, are visiting the children’s grandparents’ animal sanctuary, nestled on an undisclosed tropical island. As they build sand castles and surf the waves with their grandchildren, Grammy and Grampy offer lessons about interacting with wild animals and the looming threat of pollution on island shores. The fun is instantly usurped when a baby turtle washes ashore tangled in plastic. As Rocket learns just how bad the pollution problem is, she immediately vows to take action. Quick-witted Rocket sets out the very next day to educate beachgoers, and in no time, Rocket has a cleanup crew compiling a mass of trash. With creativity and community partnership, Rocket and her newfound friends find an artful purpose for the accumulated waste. Rocket’s whole family presents black, and the beachgoers are diverse. Included in the backmatter are resources to support and empower young readers.

Rocket’s fans will enjoy this can-do kid’s return. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11899-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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