cover image The Breaking News

The Breaking News

Sarah Lynne Reul. . Roaring Brook, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-250-15356-2

Something bad%E2%80%94really bad%E2%80%94has happened in the world. %E2%80%9CMom is glued to the television. Dad can%E2%80%99t stop checking his phone,%E2%80%9D says the narrator, a girl with a little brother. The next day, the school bus feels dark and cavernous, with kids anxiously peering over their seats at their friends. In her picture-book debut, Ruel doesn%E2%80%99t specify the nature of the event, but her astutely composed, wonderfully sympathetic cartoon-style drawings capture how kids are impacted by worried and distracted adults, and how it feels to be small in the face of something too big to grasp. Ruel also understands that many readers will yearn to feel some sense of agency; the narrator decides she wants to %E2%80%9Chelp in a BIG way%E2%80%9D and tries to cheer up the worried, sleepless adults around her. She soon realizes, however, that while people can%E2%80%99t turn off their feelings, small acts of kindness%E2%80%94reading to her brother, cheering up the dog, brightening up her block with plants%E2%80%94can make a difference. %E2%80%9CSmall things don%E2%80%99t solve everything,%E2%80%9D she says. %E2%80%9CThe bad news is still there. But then again... so are we.%E2%80%9D Featuring a multi-ethnic neighborhood of individuals connected%E2%80%94for better or worse%E2%80%94 through their shared disquiet, this is a wise and timely book. Ages 4%E2%80%938. Agent: Emily Mitchell, Wernick & Pratt Agency. (May)