WHERE WONDER GROWS

Celebrate the wondrous stories that exist all around thanks to the marvels stored in rocks.

A group of dreamers follows Grandma to her special garden. They spread a plush blanket upon the ground and gather the “magic rocks and relics from nature.” The young dreamers sit and wonder as Grandma holds the rocks in her hands, calling on the fiery wisdom of the ancestors molded into testaments of time. What about “the ones with super powers?” ask the dreamers. Grandma takes a crystal—shot through with shades of plum and streaks of cerulean—and speaks of curanderas who harness the healing powers of “quartz of all kinds.” Next, consider the might of coral reefs and shells, deep in the depths where water smooths even the most stubborn rock. Grandma and her dreamers then ponder the meteorites in their hands, envisioning the arcs that these starry fragments undertook to arrive on Earth. Expanding on the infinite flights of fancy unearthed in All Around Us (2017), González (Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation) and Garcia’s latest enchanting collaboration plumbs deeper into the natural curiosities that shape readers’ earthly realities. It’s a sweet summoning emboldened by González’s starry-eyed text, an assortment of phrases and statements that gesture toward the promise found in young readers everywhere. Garcia’s muralist background lends itself here to striking, gorgeous artwork that embodies a whimsical sense of cosmic compassion. Overall, the art showcased in this hopeful manifesto soars.

Simply dazzling. (rock facts) (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-947627-46-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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