THE BUILDING BOY

A little white boy completes Grandma’s dream house with a hammer and a bit of magic.

Grandma used to be an architect. She built “the tallest skyscrapers, the most beautiful palaces,” and many other buildings. Every night the little boy sits in Grandma’s lap in Grandma’s favorite chair in the study, in front of a roaring fire, and looks at photographs from Grandma’s past. She plans to build a beautiful house for the two of them that will be on a hill on the horizon beyond the sea. But time is marching on; Grandma becomes too old to build a house, to make dinner, to climb the stairs. One day, the boy comes home to find her gone, and now the house is “just rooms.” But he has an idea. He works for months building, through wind and snow and rain. Finally, he has it: a gigantic…grandmother! (There’s a little chimney sprouting from her metallic blue hair.) She takes him by the hand and leaps into the air. They fly over gigantic fields, walk on the ocean, and scale tall skyscrapers. Finally, he sees it. On a hill above the city and across the sea sits the house that Grandma has started for him. It becomes The Building Boy’s School for Young Architects. Montgomery’s imaginative tale of grief and legacy is refreshingly untethered by logic. Litchfield’s illustrations amplify his themes with originality and a warm palette.

Sad and sweet. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-571-31409-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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