BLACK ALL AROUND!

This earnest story told in rhyme focuses on things that are black in color, as seen through the eyes of a little African-American girl. Hubbell (Trucks: Whizz! Zoom! Rumble!, 2003, etc.) provides a disparate collection of items (a limousine, black cats, crickets) and concepts (the inside of a pocket, the night sky, "the empty place where a tooth should be") that are black (or dark brown) in color. The cheerfully celebratory concept of black as a "sleek and jazzy, warm and cozy" color is a bit forced, and the rhyme scheme is not consistent throughout the volume, causing a rather jarring effect when the text is read aloud. Due to the demands of the rhyming word pairs, many items are in juxtaposition that have no logical relationship to each other or to the child narrator, but Tate (Summer Sun Risin', 2002, etc.) creatively solves these design challenges with his illustrations. His acrylic paintings flow across double-page spreads, filled with swirling lines, varied perspectives, and neon bright shades to balance out the black items under discussion. The little girl's family is also included in the illustrations, with a smiling dad who looks quite a bit like the illustrator's photo on the back flap. The author's rhymes try hard to make black an intriguing, special shade, but it is Tate's vibrant art that pulls the concept together. (Picture book. 3-7)

 

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-58430-048-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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Lacking in originality yet ultimately a timely mirror for black boyhood and childhood

COOL CUTS

This companion to Happy Hair (2019) takes the same appreciation for the diversity of black self-expression from the beauty salon to the barbershop.

Branching out from black girl hairstyles, Roe here extends the conversation to consider the multitude of hairstyles for black and brown boys even as readers can infer a wider representation of the gender spectrum, since many of the illustrations come without explicit gender assignments. There’s a legacy of black boys who have been targeted, punished, or criticized for their choice of self-expression, and this book is a needed corrective. Arriving after the much-heralded Crown (2017), this makes space to celebrate a wide range of styles, from cornrows and curls to fro-hawks and flat-tops. Each matte, posterlike portrait is rendered alongside a catchy, empowering quote: “When the stars shine, / the world is mine” highlights a high-top; “A happy boy, / full of joy!” celebrates a step-up. A (rather trite) refrain pulls them all together: “i am born to be AWESOME!” Roe is returning to the series after Superheroes Are Everywhere (2019), her recent bestselling collaboration with Sen. Kamala Harris, undoubtedly bringing a number of new fans with her. For a segment of U.S. readership that is starved for representation that appreciates the unique details and nuances of their style and identity, this steps in to lift up their presence in bright, lively portraiture.

Lacking in originality yet ultimately a timely mirror for black boyhood and childhood . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9557-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A cozy read for bibliophiles.

SNOWMAN'S STORY

With echoes of “Frosty the Snowman” in the background, a snowman’s storybook within this wordless book delivers a comic wintertime romp.

Woodland creatures build a snowman, giving him a green book as a finishing touch. This addition comes right after a windswept top hat lands on his head, vivifying him à la Frosty. Hidden inside is a rabbit (it is a magic hat, after all); attentive readers will have seen the hat first on frontmatter pages and then with the bunny in the double-page spreads before the early ones devoted to the snowman’s construction. The snowman reads his book aloud to the animals, with the rabbit surreptitiously listening in, its ears poking out of the top of the hat. When the others all drift off to sleep, the bunny emerges and steals away with the book. A chase ensues across snowy terrain and through a series of pages (perhaps a few too many for good pacing) replete with comic-style panels. When the animals and snowman confront the rabbit in its tree-hollow home, its motivation for book thievery is revealed: This bunny has a family and wishes to share the story with its children. All’s well that ends well, and the animals convene (safely outside and away from the rabbit family’s crackling fireplace) to read together.

A cozy read for bibliophiles. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4787-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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