cover image All Are Welcome

All Are Welcome

Alexandra Penfold, illus. by Suzanne Kaufman. Knopf, $17.99 (44p) ISBN 978-0-525-57964-9

Penfold (Eat, Sleep, Poop) and Kaufman (I Love Monkey) celebrate a school community as a great common ground where families of all kinds connect and share in their children’s educational journey: “No matter how you start your day./ What you wear when you play./ Or if you come from far away./ All are welcome here.” Every child is different—readers get a brief glimpse of children’s lives away from the classroom—but everyone shares a love for story time, recess, creating green slime and volcanoes, and making friends. Though one of Penfold’s rhymes (“We’re part of a community/ Our strength is our diversity./ A shelter from adversity”) sounds more like a protest cheer than a poem, she is a passionate advocate for e pluribus unum throughout the story; the book’s refrain of “All are welcome here” feels both deeply reassuring and almost radical in our polarized time. Kaufman smoothly choreographs her large cast throughout numerous scenes—including a school night potluck, as showcased in a spacious double gatefold—and it’s fun to follow one friendship in particular as it blossoms between two girls. The inside of the book jacket doubles as a poster featuring the entire cast. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Susan Ginsburg, Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: Alexandra Penfold, Upstart Crow Literary. (July) [/em]