What’s Your Favorite Bug? by Eric Carle and Friends (9781250151759)
Following the first two picture books in this series, this one focuses entirely on insects. As with the other boos, Eric Carle is joined by other illustrators who draw an image of their favorite insect, tell a little about it and explain why they love it. One of the major treats of this series is never knowing what the page turn will bring, since each double-page spread is done by a different illustrator.
This collection has racial diversity in the illustrators included and also has a nice mix of male and female artists. As with all of the books in the series, there is a wonderful diversity in the art styles as well. The design of the book and the order of the pages works particularly well. There are dark and bright pages that lead readers on a journey of light and shadow that is particularly effective when combined with the crawly nature of bugs.
Another winner in this series that will have you searching out new illustrators to see their full books. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy provided by Henry Holt.
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (9780525552963)
Darius can’t seem to fit in anywhere. He is teased at school for being fat and Muslim. He’s never really had a friend. His father doesn’t approve of anything he does and often seems ashamed that Darius is his son. Darius is nothing like his younger sister who is adorable, outgoing and speaks flawless Farsi. So when Darius and his family take their first-ever trip to Iran to see his ailing grandfather, Darius wonders if anything will be different there. There he finally gets to meet his grandparents. His grandfather is intimidating, still watering his trees from up on his roof and driving at breakneck speeds. At the same time, he also gets lost sometimes and has outbursts of temper. Darius’ grandmother is pure love and kindness, creating meals and sharing tea. So when Darius meets Sohrab, a boy from the neighborhood, they cautiously make friends. There are bumps along the way, penis jokes taken too far, but soon they are fast friends who share a special spot overlooking Yazd. When tragedy strikes Sohrab’s family though, Darius is unsure how to help and ends up driving a wedge in their friendship that may not be able to be mended.
This book entirely stole my heart. I enjoyed Darius himself from the very beginning as he struggled with American teenage culture. However, the book truly begins when they get to Iran. It is there that Darius blossoms, but slowly and naturally. The entire book clicks together, beautifully depicting Yazd, carefully leading readers through new experiences and new foods, and celebrating the culture of Iran.
In many ways this book is a love letter to the city of Yazd and Iran itself, but it is also deeply about Darius and his growth as he finds a best friend and a place he fits. There are profound statements here about depression, stress to fit in and the sudden magic of discovering what true friendship is. There is also great humor, struggles to be understood and to understand, cultural issues and family tensions and joy. It’s complicated, just like every good novel should be.
Come fall in love with Darius and Iran at the same time in this amazing debut novel. Appropriate for ages 13-17.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Dial Books.