Despite its uplifting message, this effort doesn’t quite get off the ground.

THE KITE OF DREAMS

Children all over the world play with real and imaginary kites, buoying their hope and resilience.

In a series of international vignettes, López Ávila and Merlán describe the titular Kite of Dreams—a metaphorical toy that “gather[s] the hopes and dreams of children” and helps them “dream of a better world.” Full-bleed watercolor-and-pencil illustrations offer glimpses from the lives of 15 kids in places such as Bolivia, Haiti, Ukraine, and the Philippines. Each child has their own wishes, and each uses literal or make-believe kites to weather challenging circumstances. In one scene, a Mexican girl named Lis “finds a piece of cloth” that triggers a “daydream of flowers, butterflies, and forests.” Using her sewing skills, she crafts a kite for herself and her brother, who then “play, without being bothered by the shadow of violence.” In an unnamed Chinese village, as Xia makes the treacherous journey to school, she “pretends a kite is carrying her up into the air” to distract her from the scary parts of the trek. The Kite of Dreams represents children’s capacity for “hope,” “love,” and “joy,” no matter what hardships they face; unfortunately, the overworked symbolism makes for a somewhat threadbare arc. Though the author writes most of the vignettes as open-ended slices of life that avoid feel-good conclusions, the book’s ending may strike readers as disappointingly sentimental.

Despite its uplifting message, this effort doesn’t quite get off the ground. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-84-16733-68-2

Page Count: 27

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Positively refreshing.

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HAIR LOVE

A black girl helps her dad learn how to give her the perfect hairstyle for a very special day.

Zuri’s voluminous head of hair “has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.” She is pictured asleep with a large Afro framing her face. She is proud of her hair, which she sometimes wears in braids with beads like a princess and other times in pigtail puffs. But today is a special day. She knows Daddy is “worn-out” and probably needs a break, so she lets him sleep in while she looks up hairstyles on a tablet. When Daddy wakes and offers to help, he tries a series of hairstyles that just don’t work. Finally, Zuri grabs some hair supplies and shows him a tutorial. “Watching carefully… / Daddy combed, / parted, oiled, and twisted. / He nailed it!” Zuri is lovely and happy with her freshly done hairstyle, and when Mommy arrives to their “Welcome Home” sign, she loves Zuri’s look too. The digital illustrations feature details that feel just right: Zuri’s thick, textured hair, Daddy’s locs and tattoo, and dark-skinned Mom’s bright headwrap. While it’s unclear where Mommy is returning from (she is dressed casually and has a rolling black suitcase), this authentic depiction of a loving and whole black family broadens the scope of representation.

Positively refreshing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55336-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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