Though straining in spots, it has the offbeat, sweet style Jeffers’ fans know and love.

WHAT WE'LL BUILD

PLANS FOR OUR TOGETHER FUTURE

An adult and child gather tools and prepare for a future together.

Some things they build are rife with symbolism, such as a shelter to store what they value (including some “love” they set aside) and futures they build for each other, depicted as a series of items in blue and pink waves that spring from a wristwatch. Others are more concrete, like the fortress they build to repel “enemies,” whom they later invite in for tea and apologies. Some of what they build is fantastical (a road to the moon). The book is dedicated to the author’s daughter and is considered a companion piece to Here We Are, published in 2017 and dedicated to his son, though the pair here could still be interpreted as having a different type of caretaker-child relationship. Camaraderie between the two is the thematic focus in this affectionate narrative. Portions of the text’s meaning are somewhat vague (the two lie next to a fire that will “keep us warm like when we’re born”), and the rhyming text, with moments of inconsistent meter, occasionally feels forced. Jeffers fills the pages with an odd, giggle-inducing assortment of creatures; the duo’s former foes include a one-eyed pirate, a witch, a Viking, and (in a very poorly timed choice) a white-coated doctor with a surgical mask, and there are a friendly octopus and birds in space helmets. Adult and child both present White. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Though straining in spots, it has the offbeat, sweet style Jeffers’ fans know and love. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-20675-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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A simplistic take on the complex issue of Black identity in America.

WHO ARE YOUR PEOPLE?

A Black man teaches two Black children about their roots.

“Who are your people?” and “Where are you from?” These questions open the book as a man leads an unnamed boy and girl, presumably his children, into “Remembrance Park,” where they gaze up at Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, Stacey Abrams, and Martin Luther King Jr., who appear as cloudy apparitions in the sky. This imagery gives the misleading impression that Abrams, very much alive, is in heaven with the other figures, who are all deceased. Later on in the story, another potentially delusive illustration shows the main characters visiting a Mount Rushmore–like monument showcasing Kamala Harris alongside departed Black icons. After highlighting inspirational individuals who are not descended from people enslaved in the United States, the illustrations paradoxically depict enslaved Black Americans working in cotton fields. The portrayal of slavery is benevolent, and the images of civil rights marches and sit-ins likewise lack the necessary emotional depth. The text’s statement that “you are from the country where time moves with ease and where kindness is cherished” erases centuries of African American struggle in the face of racist violence and systemic exclusion. The book tries to instill pride in African Americans, who continue to struggle with a lack of shared identity or common experience; ultimately, it stumbles in its messaging and attempts to turn an extremely complicated, sometimes controversial topic into a warm and fuzzy picture book. All characters are Black.

A simplistic take on the complex issue of Black identity in America. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308285-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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