cover image The Breaking News

The Breaking News

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

Something bad—really bad—has happened in the world. “Mom is glued to the television. Dad can’t stop checking his phone,” 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’t 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 “help in a BIG way” and tries to cheer up the worried, sleepless adults around her. She soon realizes, however, that while people can’t turn off their feelings, small acts of kindness—reading to her brother, cheering up the dog, brightening up her block with plants—can make a difference. “Small things don’t solve everything,” she says. “The bad news is still there. But then again... so are we.” Featuring a multi-ethnic neighborhood of individuals connected—for better or worse— through their shared disquiet, this is a wise and timely book. Ages 4–8. Agent: Emily Mitchell, Wernick & Pratt Agency. (May)