cover image We Belong

We Belong

Laura Purdie Salas, illus. by Carlos Vélez Aguilera. Carolrhoda, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5415-9913-0

From its opening “Welcome!” this buoyant picture book promotes a hopeful vision of unity and camaraderie. Salas’s easy rhymes partner with Vélez Aguilera’s vibrant digital and colored pencil art, urging acceptance—of people with varying personalities (introvert and extrovert), skin tones (“We all wear our skin just like trees wear their bark”), and gender identities as well as people from various locations (“Did you drive along highways? Trek across sand?”). Action-oriented city scenes overall emphasize inclusion—showing people of varying abilities, body types, and religions watching fireworks, playing basketball, flying kites, dancing, drawing, and more—but occasionally veer into stereotype (the sole tall Black figure is portrayed as good at basketball). Nuggets of practical wisdom appear throughout (“Sometimes we’d like to make sadness extinct,/ but teardrops and smiles are joined—they are linked”), supporting the book’s open-armed embrace of planetary togetherness and diversity in the human experience. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)