Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access feature articles from our print edition. To view, subscribe or log in.
Site license users can log in here.

Get IMMEDIATE ACCESS to Publishers Weekly for only $15/month.

Instant access includes exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

The Meanest of Meanies: A Book About Love

Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley, illus. by Paul Briggs. HarperCollins, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-304055-7

A purple bipedal monster with aquamarine hair chafes at their mother’s love in this picture book debut by bestselling comedienne duo Hensley and Smedley (#IMomSoHard, for adults). In sometimes arhythmic, slightly cheesy rhymes (“She kisses my forehead/ and puts her cheek next to mine./ As I roll into Sleepytown,/ my heart-lights start to shine”), the authors describe how the first-person narrator’s mother, a monster with matching hair, is “the meaniest of mean.” Mom delivers coffee-breath smooches (“So rude!”), adds “cringey” love notes to the protagonist’s balanced lunches, and enforces bedtime routines. Vibrant digital illustrations by Briggs have a friendly animation-style appeal. The central message doesn’t quite land (“Because being mean... means... I LOVE YOU”), and some jokes seem geared more toward adults than child readers, but parents and children alike will find recognizable situations and attitudes in this gently humorous read. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 04/09/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Your Mama

NoNieqa Ramos, illus. by Jacqueline Alcantára. Versify, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-328-63188-6

Ramos reconfigures a well-known joke format into an uplifting, rhythmic exultation of motherhood in this bouncy debut. “Your mama so sweet, she could be a bakery,/ all frosting, powdered sugar, and pastries,” opens Ramos. The first line appears in a banner on a verso page, before smoothly incorporating Spanish on the recto: “Leaves love notes in your almuerzo, homemade./ She’s the cinnamon to your tembleque,/ the tres leches to your cake.” Vivacious spreads by Alcantára depict a majority cast of color, centering a dynamic mother and child with light brown skin and long dark waves who attend school parent night hand-in-hand (“Your mama dress so fine”), take stacks of books to the library checkout (“Your mama a brainiac”), and “with posters homemade,” attend rallies for justice (“Your mama so woke”). Parents and children alike will appreciate this thoroughly contemporary portrait of familial love. Ages 4–7. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 04/09/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Tough Like Mum

Lana Button, illus. by Carmen Mok. Tundra, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7352-6598-1

According to “everyone in town,” Kim, a pale child with brown hair, is “tough” like her single mother, who works as a waitress and for whom it’s difficult to make ends meet. Groceries seem limited, and contextual clues imply that the family’s power has been turned off: “I don’t need the stove to make this soup taste good,” Kim says, and their home is lit solely by candle at night. For lunch, there’s “just ends. So the last two pieces of pepperoni and a mustard smile.” But the child attempts to sustain a positive attitude, channeling her mother throughout the day despite lacking funds for a field trip and experiencing bullying. Mok offers simple, carefully shaded gouache and colored-pencil art, underlining this sensitive portrayal of the bond between one mother and child navigating difficult circumstances and whether to welcome help. Ages 3–7. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 04/09/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
I Love Mommy Every Day

Isabel Otter, illus. by Alicia Más. Rodale Kids, $10.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-30378-8

This simple picture book by Otter serves as an early lesson in anaphora, each spread featuring a sentence beginning with “Mommy” on the left-hand page and a concise line of further explanation on the right: “Mommy is a guiding star./ Wherever she leads, I follow,” reads one spread, which features a light-skinned parent with short fuchsia hair holding hands with two smiling charges. Más illustrates in an airbrushed digital style, portraying dot-eyed, snub-nosed adults and children of different skin tones, hair textures, and abilities on each spread. It may lack an overarching plot or rhythmic structure, but this novelty picture book will serve well as a gift to expecting mothers or those with young children. A back matter box invites readers to fill in a list of three blanks answering the question, “What do you love best about your Mommy?” Ages 3–7. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 04/09/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
I Love You, Mom

Cindy Jin, illus. by Wazza Pink. Little Simon, $7.99 (14p) ISBN 978-1-5344-7989-0

Jin and Pink assemble flowers for mothers in this board book, which is accordingly shaped like a bouquet. Each spread features a different-colored floral varietal whose name is highlighted in corresponding text, followed by a brief rhyming elaboration. “A pink carnation/ for mommy’s love,/ filled with kisses/ and cozy hugs,” narrates a child, addressing their mother as carnations sit on the windowsill alongside a yawning calico cat. In digital art, Pink populates the spread with a brown-skinned parent and child, both with wavy dark hair, as the latter proudly presents breakfast in bed. Each successive page features a different mother-child pairing across a range of skin tones and hair textures; a closing spread features a pale, dark-haired child handing their mother a bouquet. Children will enjoy spotting the flowers in this readaloud that’s as much greeting card as book. Ages 1–5. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 04/09/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
When We Fly

Jess McGeachin. Philomel, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-593-20358-3

Lucy, a pale child with dark hair and ink-dot eyes, lives with her bespectacled single father, and delights in fixing things: “the wonky mailbox, broken watches, even Dad’s old binoculars.” When she finds a sparrow with a broken wing, she immediately names him Flap and gets to work building a project to help him fly again. Soft brushed digital art bathes Lucy’s creation in buttery light: a plane assembled from disparate parts. The core of author-illustrator McGeachin’s poignant, fantastical tale is grounded in sobering reality, as Lucy’s father helps her come to terms with the knowledge that not everything is fixable, but he also teaches her that moving forward—including, as suggested in a quiet visual arc, grieving a late family member—is possible with the support of loved ones. Back matter includes an identification guide for birds pictured, as well as advice for dealing with injured birds. Ages 4–8. (July)

Reviewed on 04/09/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Planting Peace: The Story of Wangari Maathai

Gwendolyn Hooks, illus. by Margaux Carpentier. Crocodile, $19.95 (64p) ISBN 978-1-62371-885-5

In 28 individually titled spreads, this engaging narrative nonfiction picture book relays the life of Kenyan preservationist Wangari Maathai (1940–2011), “the first woman to get a PhD in East Africa,” the founder of the Green Belt Movement, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner who fought for justice. Tracing Maathai’s life, including her childhood and education, Hooks uses elegant yet accessible prose: “They became the roots of the movement and their efforts its leaves.” Carpentier’s saturated geometric illustrations emphasize the bold impact of Maathai’s actions, including her work empowering rural women to plant millions of trees and help rebuild Kenya’s infrastructure, and peaceful protesting that halted construction of a skyscraper in Nairobi’s largest city park. A well-paced profile of an inspiring environmentalist who built a movement. Front matter includes info about Maathai’s inspiration; back matter includes a glossary and an index. Ages 7–up. (May)

Reviewed on 04/09/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Our Shed: A Father-Daughter Building Story

Robert Broder, illus. by Carrie O’Neill. Little Bigfoot, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-63217-264-8

A father with pale skin and brown hair teaches his creative, tan-skinned daughter woodworking skills as the duo builds a shed in their backyard over the course of three days. Through a first-person perspective and simple, straightforward prose, Broder follows the project, including steps such as checking boards for warping and how to guide and use a saw. Imaginative interludes charm while hammering home the narrator’s youth and the duo’s close relationship: “The daddy-dragon roars as if he’s breathing fire... After defeating the beast, I hand Dad the nails when he asks for them. I check the boards with the level to make sure everything is straight.” O’Neill adds dynamic dot-eyed humans in a gentle color palette that features a recurring pink dragon motif. Late-narrative time lapses feel slightly jarring, but this sweet parent-child story effectively celebrates hands-on intergenerational collaboration. Ages 5–7. (May)

Reviewed on 04/09/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Someone Builds the Dream

Lisa Wheeler, illus. by Loren Long. Dial, $19.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-984814-33-3

Employing the refrain “someone has to build the dream,” Wheeler highlights the often-underappreciated physical labor that goes into making just about anything: houses, bridges, fountains, wind turbines, amusement parks—even books. While architects, artists, scientists, and book creators are important, the text observes, their work comes to life thanks to those who make their visions tangible. Utilizing bouncy rhymes (“Someone works to mine the ore,/ smelt the iron,/ pour the beam.// Someone needs to weld the steel./ Someone has to build the dream”), Wheeler peeks behind the scenes, appreciating such workers as welders, plumbers, typesetters, and more. Long’s rich, light-filled illustrations, rendered in acrylics and colored pencil, paint an inclusive world of people of varying abilities, skin tones, hair textures, and religions. A powerful tribute to skilled tradespeople that emphasizes the teamwork necessary to make the world run. Ages 5–8. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 04/09/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
Carpenter’s Helper

Sybil Rosen, illus. by Camille Garoche. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-12320-1

Renata, an Afro-Latinx child with brown skin and two Afro puffs, is helping her bearded, bespectacled Papi complete the construction of their new bathroom. But their work comes to a halt one morning when the pair discover an unexpected visitor: “It’s a little bird—a wren!—peppy and plump, with an upturned tail.” The wren weaves a nest with his partner on the shelf of an open bathroom cabinet, and soon enough, “four rosy eggs with red-brown blotches” hatch. Rosen’s prose is keenly observed, from the steps the birds take to build the beautiful little nest to the fledglings’ flight lessons. Excelling in natural illustrations with a slightly cartoonish bent, Garoche offers fine-lined pencil art colored digitally in a soft color palette. This gentle story, with its respect for family, nature, construction, and collaboration, will lift readers’ spirits as surely as Renata boosts the wrens. Ages 3–7. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 04/09/2021 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.