cover image Just Help! How to Build a Better World

Just Help! How to Build a Better World

Sonia Sotomayor, illus. by Angela Dominguez. Philomel, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-20626-3

Generosity proves contagious in this personal portrait of community service by Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor (Just Ask!). Young Sonia’s mother, a hospital nurse, asks her before school each morning, “How will you help today?” Seeking to “have a good answer for Mami’s question,” the light-skinned child has gathered personal supplies for American soldiers serving overseas. As Sonia and her classmates assemble care packages in the school gym, the work cheers a child whose mother is “stationed far away,” and who in turn gives the plastic shopping bags to a kid who started a plastic bag recycling program at school. Sonia’s classmates, shown as children of varying abilities and skin tones, generate still more ideas via a domino effect of good deeds. Sotomayor concludes by emphasizing the importance of voting: “When I was young, I was part of a great struggle to get the right to vote,” an older Black man tells a pupil who pushes his wheelchair; “Now I never miss the chance.” Digital illustrations by Dominguez (I Love You, Baby Burrito) portray the children and their actions with simplicity and clarity. An author’s letter explains why it’s crucial to understand the world as “one very large neighborhood,” and that’s just what young Sonia and her classmates do in this inspirational volume. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)