On discouraging days, this book will help readers find their place in the world with greater love for themselves and others.

YOU ARE A BEAUTIFUL BEGINNING

Page after page of gentle affirmations to support self-acceptance and resolve self-doubts.

After drawing an imagined adventure, a slicker-clad elementary-age kid leaves a house nestled in a small community and journeys to a nearby woodland. Soothing sentence pairs follow a predictable pattern: “It is not how far you traveled. / It is the journey that you took.” Along the way, the protagonist, who has brown hair and light beige skin, is joined by two neighbors, a brown-skinned child with glasses and black curly hair tucked under a hat and an extremely pale White kid with blond hair. Throughout the day, they plan, scavenge, build, and finally enjoy a clubhouse under a huge tree. “It is not being a hero. / It is being part of a team. // It is not putting up walls. / It is about building a dream.” All the while, the children are surrounded by trees shown in richly colored realistic images—with just a touch of fantasy—standing out against a white background. Fairies, gnomes in pointed hats, and anthropomorphic rocks, flowers, animals, and insects are never far from the action. (Humanoid figures are diverse.) At the end of the day, the children’s story emphasizes a positive sense of self and optimism for what the journey tomorrow will bring. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 82% of actual size.)

On discouraging days, this book will help readers find their place in the world with greater love for themselves and others. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-31183-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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