You Are Light by Aaron Becker (9781536201154)
Caldecott Honor winner Becker has created his first board book and what a beauty it is! The book almost glows with light and comes fully alive when raised toward the sun or a lamp where the colored circles shine. As the pages turn, light is celebrated. The way that it warms land, sips the sea, makes the rain, makes crops grow, and lights the moon. Particularly though, the light in each person is celebrated.
This board book is wonderfully simple and exceptionally designed. As pages turn, the primary colors overlap to form secondary colors and a complete rainbow, yet another way that light enters our lives. The poetry is effective and evocative, speaking to the power of light in our world. Still, it is the design and colors that truly make this book something particularly special.
Just right for learning colors and seeing a little one’s connection to the world. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from copy provided by Candlewick.
New Kid by Jerry Craft (9780062691200)
All Jordan wanted to do was go to art school, but instead his parents decided to send him to a private school full of opportunities for his future. Starting the school in seventh grade on financial aid, Jordan is also one of the only students of color there. Jordan is soon trying to figure out how to navigate from his Washington Heights neighborhood to the Riverdale Academy Day School. As he travels to school, he steadily changes his outfit to fit in more. He also does code switching to fit in better. Still, with some teachers it doesn’t work at all and they continually get his name wrong as well as that of other kids of color. As Jordan’s frustration grows, it shows in his art as he creates pointed social critiques of a school he is starting to really enjoy though he wonders if he will ever fit in.
This is one of the best books for middle school age that deals with microaggressions, bias, privilege, and racism. Given that it is a graphic novel too, that makes it all the more appealing as a source for discussion. Craft takes on all of these issues with a forthright tone, frustration and a willingness to engage. He doesn’t make all of the white people clueless, but many of them are just like in real life. Jordan’s struggle to codeswitch and fit in is beautifully conveyed in the art and story line.
Jordan serves as a catalyst in the school, crossing lines to make new friends, avoiding the school bully, and having serious conversations with other kids. At the same time, the book is filled with humor, which offsets the serious tone about racial and biased incidents which are never laughed off. The inclusion of all sorts of pop culture references makes the book all the more fun to read.
A strong and compelling work of graphic fiction. Appropriate for ages 10-13.
Reviewed from library copy.