cover image My Key

My Key

Amal. Clavis, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-60537-689-9

The apparently Black narrator of this picture book by author-illustrator Amal sits outside a brick row house, wishing for a trip to the movies, Timbuktu, “a little Kasbah in a big city”—or at very least the library. Instead, a neighborhood raven offers a magical glowing ball: “It beams! It’s fantastic!” Now the child can travel alone. In this new fantasy world, sea dragons loom, but the protagonist is unintimidated: “No! You can’t have my ball. It won’t do anything for you!” When a sign at the library says it’s closed due to a “very important young elephant book conference,” the child makes a key, finds a book about the kasbah—and instantly, an elephant reaches out of the book: “I knew I’d get to Morocco!” Magical developments unfurl one after another as sepia tones dominate elegant, classically drafted panel artwork that subtly transitions to color. Nothing stops the protagonist from doing what they want to do, and they master every situation in this exhilarating outing. Ages 5–11. (Nov.)