A Trio of Picture Book Reviews

Since I work at a library, a lot of picture books come my way every day. Sometimes I take a few minutes to read them and occasionally review them. However, those reviews tend to be pretty short, so instead of devoting an entire post to a review that’s not even a paragraph long, I’ll bundle them together!

Stella’s Stellar Hair by Yesenia Moises

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Published: January 5th, 2021
Publisher: Imprint
Pages: 40, hardcover

Stella’s Stellar Hair is a fun exploration not only of various Black hairstyles, but of the planets as well. I loved the art style and the vibrant but still soft colors; Moises’ use of color is truly stunning. I also especially loved how deep thought was obviously put into how to tie the Black hairstyles to the planets themselves — so for Black people living very close to the sun, Moises says that the extreme heat would make it easiest to have dreads. For Black people living on Neptune, long waves to match the planet’s oceans would make sense. This is a creative, fun book that children–especially Black girls–will love.

Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Published: January 5th, 2021
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Pages: 48, hardcover

The art style was cute and the prose was nice, and I appreciated reading a book that explained things in a way a child could understand. It was maybe a little oversimplified but that’s probably to be expected. 

But I noticed one big flaw: In all the families and people Pham includes, all of them are hetero and able-bodied. When you’ve given yourself a goal to talk about how everyone had to stay inside, you give yourself the responsibility of making sure it shows through in the art. I only noticed because there is a pretty good representation of different groups so the lack of certain ones stood out.

I don’t think it was intentional; I think Pham and her team just didn’t notice. It happens. 

Macca the Alpaca by Matt Cosgrove

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Published: February 4th, 2021
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 24, hardcover

The art was cute, and I loved Macca’s personality and how it showed through the art style. But I’m not sure about the message — it seems to suggest forgiving bullies even when they do nothing to earn that forgiveness, which I think is a much more nuanced lesson than a picture book can tackle, and not one of which I personally approve.

I also heavily question the use of the word “thug” to describe a big brown llama who bullies the smaller white alpaca. I think perhaps the author should have examined their unconscious biases.

That’s it from me! Have you read any children’s picture books that you loved lately?

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