When it was read, the poem was instantly acclaimed; Pilkey’s visual interpretation fully—and joyfully—honors it.

ONE TODAY

The creator of Captain Underpants returns to the painterly style of his Caldecott honor book, Paperboy (1996), to illustrate Blanco’s poem, written for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.

Pilkey chooses a landscape orientation to capture the poem’s sea-to-shining-sea epic sweep, giving readers three characters—a pigtailed black girl, a red-capped white boy, and a black cat—to follow through the titular day. They leave their house as the sun rises, wander benign city streets and play in parks while their mother works, then pick her up at the end of the day to return home in “the plum blush of dusk.” He doesn’t confine himself to simply mirroring the poem’s abundant visual images, instead adopting a kaleidoscopic approach that uses the sun’s diagonal rays to control compositions. Some double-page spreads are multiply fractured, capturing the nation’s busyness, while others are solemn and contemplative, as in a low-angle, blue-dominated image of the children from waist down that accompanies the lines commemorating “the empty desks of twenty children marked absent / today, and forever.” Trucks, school buses, and bridges form visual leitmotifs; a saturated, pastel palette modulates with the poem’s moods; cityscapes are made welcoming with softly rounded horizon lines; the seasons change with the text of the poem across this “one today,” taking readers from spring to winter.

When it was read, the poem was instantly acclaimed; Pilkey’s visual interpretation fully—and joyfully—honors it. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-37144-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single...

HOW TO READ A BOOK

A linguistic and visual feast awaits in Alexander and Sweet’s debut collaboration.

If the mechanics of deciphering words on a page is a well-covered topic, the orchestration of finding magic between pages is an art emphasized but unexplained…until now. First things are first: “find a tree—a black tupelo or dawn redwood will do—and plant yourself.” Once settled, take the book in hand and “dig your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and pop the words out…[then] // Squeeze every morsel of each plump line until the last drop of magic / drips from the infinite sky.” Reading, captured here in both content and form, is hailed as the unassailably individual, creative act it is. The prosody and rhythm and multimodal sensuousness of Alexander’s poetic text is made playfully material in Sweet’s mixed-media collage-and-watercolor illustrations. Not only does the book explain how to read, but it also demonstrates the elegant and emotive chaos awaiting readers in an intricate partnership of text and image. Despite the engaging physicality of gatefolds and almost three-dimensional spreads, readers with lower contrast sensitivity or readers less experienced at differentiating shapes and letters may initially find some of the more complex collage spreads difficult to parse. Children depicted are typically kraft-paper brown.

New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single step . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-230781-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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