A well-cultivated story that plants a seed about the value of friends and what they leave with us, even when they’re gone

HOW I LEARNED TO FALL OUT OF TREES

Saying goodbye to a friend is tied together with the experience of climbing in Kirsch’s sentimental latest.

Roger learns a last lesson from his friend Adelia before her family moves away: how to climb a tree. “What if I fall?” he worries. What follows is a primer on both getting up into the leaves and coping with the loss of someone you’re attached to. Kirsch elegantly makes the connection with affirmations that work both ways: “Hang on tight with both hands”; “take it one branch at a time”; and, inevitably, “letting go will be the hardest part!” If it seems tree-twee, the pace and Roger’s perpetually grim but trusting face make up for it. The busily illustrated pages that show Roger and Adelia having their last moments together are intercut with items she’s collected to break Roger’s fall, presented on contrasting white backgrounds. These pages come across like warm, flashing memories. By the time Roger makes his solo climb and falls, smiling, into a gigantic pile of Adelia’s making, it feels like a tremendous and joyful payoff to what has previously seemed like a sad learning experience. Adding to the vibe are Kirsch’s careful details: bespectacled, pink-skinned Roger’s fussy clothing, brown-skinned Adelia’s flower garlands, the ridged texture of the tree itself. Close readers might wonder if Adelia falls victim to the “magical minority” trope, but as both children are equally swiftly sketched it does not seem to apply.

A well-cultivated story that plants a seed about the value of friends and what they leave with us, even when they’re gone . (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3413-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more