A good bridge to take children from comic tropes to fine art.

GRANDMA IN BLUE WITH RED HAT

Using his love of art to honor his grandmother, a boy fumbles with his first plan but succeeds with his second.

Weekly art class at a museum (clearly the Metropolitan Museum of Art) is exciting. The teacher’s assertion that “anything can be in an art exhibition”—toys, hair clips, water bottles—is followed by a brainstorming session among the kids of art’s traits. Is it beautiful, funny or unique? Does it come from afar or make people “feel good”? This inspires an unusual idea. The protagonist’s grandmother possesses all those traits, so “I should give Grandma to the museum!” This odd inspiration doesn’t quite make sense: The boy’s too fond of his grandma to want her gone and too old to genuinely think humans are donate-able, but it doesn’t read like a joke. Luckily, the museum nixes it, and the boy moves on. He creates an entire mixed-media art exhibit under his own steam, each piece a portrayal of Grandma in a different artistic style. Bliss uses pen, ink and watercolor to mix affectionate figure drawings and re-creations of famous artwork with speech bubbles and faces straight from the comics (including some eyebrows that don’t quite fit). Though lacking the visceral joie de vivre of Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis’ Lily Brown’s Paintings (2007), this helps fill a critical need for art-loving black child characters.

A good bridge to take children from comic tropes to fine art. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1484-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A fresh take on an enduring theme.

MOST PERFECT YOU

When Irie tells her momma she hates her big poofy hair, her momma explains that everything about Irie was perfectly custom made.

Irie wants her hair to swing and bounce like the “pretty hair” that “everyone else” has. But Momma tells her that she didn’t make Irie to be like everyone else. “I made you to be you.” Momma explains that when she was expecting Irie, she talked to God and made special requests. Out of all the skin tones in the world, Momma chose her favorite for Irie. The same for her hair type, her sparkling eyes, her kissable nose, and her bright smile. Momma also chose a good heart for Irie, and when she was born, she was perfect, and as she grew, she was kind. When Momma tells her “you are all of my favorite things,” Irie runs to the mirror and sees herself with new eyes: a “most perfect me.” This sweet, imaginative tale highlights the importance of parental love in boosting children’s self-esteem and will be a touching read-aloud for families who have struggled with issues of fitting in. The story is a challenging one to illustrate; the full-color digital art is warm with soft shades of natural-looking color but struggles to create engaging scenes to accompany Momma’s explanation of her conversation with God. The multiple spreads showing Irie and Momma flying through the atmosphere among clouds, stars, and hearts become a bit monotonous and lack depth of expression. Characters are Black. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fresh take on an enduring theme. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42694-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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