A rousing call to action for more racially diverse children’s literature.

DEAR READER

A LOVE LETTER TO LIBRARIES

A book-loving, brown-skinned, proactive young girl advocates for stories with characters that look like her.

Her appetite for books is so insatiable that she likes stories of all kinds, including those “full of thrones, quests, friendship, and dreams” and those “with brave heroines and heroes saving the day.” Although she views herself as a heroine, she has a “nagging suspicion” that she doesn't meet the “criteria for a heroine's condition” because not a single character in the books she loves looks like her. Searching for characters with brown skin who “do magic, fight villains, and find lost cities of gold,” she finds only stories of “struggle, hardship, and pain” and asks what it means “for a girl like me…to never see a face like mine.” Undaunted, she opts to create her own stories of “cocoa-colored mer-people, honey-hued dragon slayers, and superheroes with locs.” She invites readers to join her in making her “melanated words come to life” and in telling stories as “diverse as our skin.” The energetic, upbeat text employing the occasional rhyme transmits an urgency designed to prompt readers to action. Colorful and imaginative illustrations show the spunky protagonist engulfed by towers of books and transported to storybook worlds peopled by brown-skinned characters.

A rousing call to action for more racially diverse children’s literature. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1225-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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