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FROM ARCHIE TO ZACK by Vincent X. Kirsch


by Vincent X. Kirsch ; illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch

Pub Date: Dec. 29th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-4197-4367-2
Publisher: Abrams

Two little boys express their love for each other.

Everyone in Zack and Archie’s class knows they love each other. The two boys do everything together: ride a tandem bike, build elaborate sand castles, play miniature golf, fly rainbow kites. For unexplained reasons, neither boy can admit their love to the other even though they each want to. Archie, who’s White, writes brief letters telling Zack, who’s Black, his feelings, but in each one, “something’s missing.” He hides each one. Finally three girls find the hidden notes and give them to Zack in an elementary school version of forced outing. Since the entire book is about two kids who both love each other and everyone seems fine with it, it’s unclear where the tension is coming from, and the climax fizzles when it’s revealed that Zack has also been writing letters to Archie. The illustrations are goofy and energetic, with lots of small details on every page. Their classroom includes some background diversity; unfortunately, two children, likely intended as East Asian, are depicted with stereotypically slanted eyes. One girl wears a hijab and another a bindi, and a third uses a wheelchair; a Hanukkah scene indicates that at least one of the boys is Jewish. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15.3% of actual size.)

Models how to say “I love you” for children—but readers may wonder what all the fuss is about.

(Picture book. 4-7)