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What Can a Citizen Do?

Dave Eggers, illus. by Shawn Harris. Chronicle, $17.99 (52p) ISBN 978-1-4521-7313-9

In manifesto-style language, Eggers (The Lifters) exhorts readers to get together and get involved (“Do something for another. Don’t you dare doubt that you can!”), while elaborate cut-paper illustrations by Harris (Her Right Foot) follow a group of children who slowly transform a little island with a single tree into a lively tree house society. When a posted “No trumpets” sign excludes a trumpet player, the founders amend the sign to “OK trumpets,” showing that building community, literally and figuratively, demands a willingness to compromise. Eggers’s narration is sometimes literal, sometimes oblique (“Yes! A citizen can be a bear,” he writes, as the kids welcome a huge bear to their group), but it’s never less than stirring. The dimensionality and complexity of Harris’s illustrations, meanwhile, beautifully embody the messy realities and exciting potential of the civic enterprise. The cast of characters is forthrightly diverse, including a girl wearing a hijab and a child of indeterminate gender wearing a baseball cap, big boots, and a tutu. As Eggers writes, “Who can a citizen be?/ A citizen is just like you.” Ages 5–8. Author’s and illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/22/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Good Rosie!

Kate DiCamillo, illus. by Harry Bliss. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-8979-7

Rosie the terrier and her middle-aged owner, George, are loving companions and creatures of habit. But when Rosie sees her reflection in her empty food bowl (“The other dog never answers”), she yearns for companions of her own species. One day, George decides to visit the local dog park, and Rosie is more than a little hesitant (“Rosie does not like the dog park. There are too many dogs.”). Then she meets Fifi the Chihuahua and Maurice the Saint Bernard. Though their friendship is not without initial missteps (Rosie must overcome her innate reticence, Maurice must promise that he will not try to eat Fifi—again), it changes Rosie’s world. DiCamillo’s deep empathy for her shy, lonely protagonist will come as no surprise, but her portrayal of Rosie as genuinely puzzled by the mechanics of friendship is particularly astute. Bliss (Diary of a Worm) works in a paneled comics format, and it proves felicitous for his formal drawing style and deadpan humor. This is no shaggy dog story—it’s thoughtful and funny, and a real gift for emerging readers. Ages 5–8. Author’s and illustrator’s agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/22/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Imagine!

Raúl Colón. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4814-6273-0

Though Colón (Draw!) grew up in New York City, he didn’t visit the city’s art museums until he was an adult. The powerful idea of encountering original modern masterworks as a child, his author’s note says, inspired this wordless fantasy. Using the deeply saturated hues and combed textures of his signature style, the artist draws a brown-skinned boy hopping onto his skateboard, sailing across the Brooklyn Bridge, and heading into the Museum of Modern Art, checking his helmet and board at the entrance. Inside, he encounters Rousseau’s The Sleeping Gypsy, Picasso’s Three Musicians, and Matisse’s Icarus. He’s awed by the paintings—Colón draws him with his hands clasped behind his head—and is overjoyed when the figures burst from their frames. After dancing with the boy out onto the street, they tour famous New York landmarks together—fast-moving stills show the figures in improbable N.Y.C. settings with humorous believability—before returning to the museum. Back in Brooklyn, the figures remain in the boy’s mind, and he creates some magnificent art of his own. Colón’s vibrant scenes make it clear that visiting works of art can breathe magic into the everyday and inspire further creativity afterward. Ages 4–8. Agent: Gail Morgan, Morgan Gaynin Agency. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/22/2018 | Details & Permalink

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A Home in the Barn

Margaret Wise Brown, illus. by Jerry Pinkney. HarperCollins, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-623787-9

“Outside in the cold/ Hear the wind rattle/ Stay in the barn/ Keep warm with the cattle.” Atmospheric lines by the late, legendary author begin this story of the gathering in of winter on a farm, illustrated with finely developed paintings by Caldecott Medalist Pinkney. Mice, which have spent the summer in the fields, scurry into the hayloft, and the horses follow, their breath rising “like smoke” in the cold air. In the warm barn, a calf is born, and the farmer (who has brown skin and dark hair) and his dog welcome it: “ ‘Winter Morn will be her name,’ said Jonathan, the farmer, as he rubbed down her silky little curly coat.” Brown describes the cozy animal activity with reassuring, repeating lines that wander unevenly between poetry and prose. Pinkney paints the animals with affection, warmth, and remarkable vitality evident in every carefully observed detail: the way the hair lies on a cow’s snout, the spread of a cardinal’s feathers just before landing. Like the barn itself, Pinkney’s paintings offer a warm refuge for readers to return to. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/22/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans

Tina Cho, illus. by Keum Jin Song. Little Bee, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4998-0682-3

In a story at once lyrical and hard-hitting, Cho, a South Korean resident, reimagines a 2016 humanitarian mission in which she participated involving a clandestine rice delivery, via helium balloons, to hungry North Koreans. Narrator Yoori and her father (who grew up “starving” in North Korea and “escaped down here to the south”) arrive at the border between the two countries, where they help other volunteers from their church inflate balloons and attach bags of rice to them. When other children begin chanting “Don’t feed the enemy,” Yoori says, “The hope in my heart withers like a dying rice stalk,” and she chastises them, asserting that “We must help!/ North Korean children have no rice.” Featuring sharp, foliage-heavy illustrations and divergent color palettes, Song’s art dramatically reveals the stark contrast between the landscapes of South and North; vivid flowers and fruit grow in the lush terrain of the former, while withered vines and leafless trees dominate the latter’s barren countryside. Concluding notes on the history, culture, and politics of the Korean peninsula provide context for this eye-opening, hopeful story. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Adria Goetz, Martin Literary Management. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/22/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Lost in the Library

Josh Funk, illus. by Stevie Lewis. Holt, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-15501-6

Patience and Fortitude, the iconic lion statues that reside in front of the New York Public Library, star in this rhyming hide-and-seek adventure. When Fortitude awakens around dawn one morning and discovers that his story-loving counterpart isn’t on his plinth, he ventures for the first time into “the Library’s grand labyrinth.” His search takes him to many of the NYPL’s most celebrated features—Astor Hall, the Rose Main Reading Room, and the children’s center—with help from an assortment of library denizens. (A page at the end of the book offers further information about many of these sights.) The hunt becomes urgent as sunrise approaches, but the two lions eventually make it back to their usual posts, leaving Fortitude to reflect on the library’s surprises. With a natural, if almost too consistent read-aloud rhythm and accurate, earth-toned illustrations by Lewis (Prince & Knight), this work by Funk (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast) is an ode to books, friendship, and a New York institution. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Kathleen Rushall, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/22/2018 | Details & Permalink

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The Little Barbarian

Renato Moriconi. Eerdmans, $17 (48p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5509-1

The little barbarian of the title runs across the bottom of the page, helmet on, shield and sword at the ready. His black horse awaits him. A page turn, and the barbarian is off: he’s up at the top of the page, leaping across a gaping chasm! A turn later, he’s at the bottom of the page, attacked by a flock of murderous birds! Then, top, leaping across a nest of vipers; then, bottom, under a rain of arrows. Loosely stroked watercolors by Brazilian artist Moriconi give impish humor to the nightmarish dangers the little barbarian faces, while the visual up-and-down rhythm hints at what’s to come. When the barbarian’s secret is revealed, readers will want to return to his adventures for another look. The wordless pages, tall and narrow, provide dramatic white backdrops for the action. And Moriconi’s simple, even wise, adventure salutes the power of a child’s imagination, which unspools endless visions of danger, courage, desperate rescue, and victory. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/22/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Under the Same Sky

Britta Teckentrup. Tiger Tales, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-68010-094-5

Cats under the night sky and lions in the noonday sun, deer in the mountains and rabbits in the forest, dolphins in the ocean and birds in the air—all of them “live under the same sky,” Teckentrup writes, “in lands near and far.” Each pair of animals, and each pair of spreads, are united by a die-cut that reveals something of the second page in the first, and repeats the first line of the poem with the second line. The cats, composed of flat, graphic shapes, have yellow eyes that mimic a die-cut yellow cloud among the stars; a page turn reveals the cloud to be part of a sun-baked sky over a grasslands-dwelling family of lions. Earth-toned browns and water-toned blues carry through the theme of a world shared by many. By drawing the animals into relationships with one another, Teckentrup (Don’t Wake Up the Tiger) celebrates the majesty of the natural world and the creatures that inhabit it, and in plain, almost prayerlike words, holds up this essential union. Ages 3–6. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/22/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide

Isabel Quintero, illus. by Zeke Pe%C3%B1a. Abrams, $19.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-947440-00-5

Quintero (Gabi, a Girl in Pieces) and newcomer Peña weave together Graciela Iturbide's award-winning photography, her own words, and narrative snapshots of her life into an artistically powerful graphic novel homage. Instead of creating a straightforward biography, the duo has opted to capture the impressions, intentions, and influences that were central to the photographer's work, which often focused on Mexican and indigenous culture, lives, and environments. Like Iturbide ("I see reality in black and white"), Peña works in grayscale, focusing predominantly on each panel's forms and faces by omitting the often-rich colors of Mexican landscape and dress. Archival materials recreate moments surrounding Iturbide's most famous photographs, guiding readers to an understanding of Iturbide's work—predominately that from the late 1970s—without explaining it outright. Though true biographical information is limited to elements of the artist's upbringing, the graphic novel honors a provocative life by taking a provocative form. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 06/22/2018 | Details & Permalink

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