Friday, May 28, 2021

PW review


Not Little from Shelf Awareness


Not Little by Maya Myers, illus. by Hyewon Yum (Neal Porter/Holiday House, $18.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 3-7, 9780823446193, July 6, 2021)

Small and little do not mean the same thing. Ask the spunky protagonist of debut author Maya Myers's Not Little. Sure, she'll admit, "I am the smallest person in my family." And add, "Even my name is small: Dot." But whether at rest or play, in the kitchen or outside, Dot is mighty capable. Author/illustrator Hyewon Yum (Saturday Is Swimming Day) makes delightfully, whimsically certain that Dot takes up plenty of energetic space with her vibrant personality and independent tenacity.

Dot is "the smallest person in [her] class." At the door of her classroom, as all the other kids look on, she must insist to their elementary teacher that she's actually not in preschool, demonstrating her knowledge of square roots, world capitals and space travel. Wherever she goes, however, she finds she must prove again and again, "I may be small, but I'm not little." At the library, her check-out pile is taller than she is. She orders from the grown-up menu at restaurants. She eschews grocery store stickers because, as she repeats yet again, she's not little.

And then a new boy appears at school. What Dot instantly notices is that Sam "might even be smaller" than she is. She attempts to sidle up to him to compare heights but doesn't want to frighten him. In the lunchroom, however, she proves plenty scary when a lunchroom bully tries his "mean boy" tactics on innocent Sam. Suddenly, she just might be "the biggest kid [Sam's] ever met," especially when it comes to standing tall against adversity.

Myers clearly channels her elementary school teaching experience in empathetically creating Dot and Sam's recognizable exchanges about unfamiliar classrooms and playgrounds, tiptoeing through social dynamics and navigating new relationships. Yum's enchanting color-pencil illustrations elevate Myers's text with ingenious visual enhancements. On every page, Yum includes diverse faces, starting with Dot's own family: the opening spread suggests parents and grandparents of ethnically different backgrounds, the four children presented in various hues. She also imbues all characters with energy and motion--their expressions include winking, smirking and knowing smiles; her ample use of white space allows for the colorful characters to take center stage. Dot is especially charmingly memorable, literally wearing her name with her white polka-dotted orange shirt, her purple-dotted pink leggings and even her green-dotted yellow lunchbox. Most significantly, Yum also adds to Dot's essential wardrobe a bright red neckerchief that just might resemble a superhero cape. By book's end, Dot proves her whole small body has a mighty big voice that will be heard. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Hyewon Yum's ingenious artistry amplifies Maya Myers's delightful Dot, who might be small, but certainly not little as she takes on doubters and even a bully to get her big voice heard.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

SLJ review star#2

YUM, Hyewon. Grandpa Across the Ocean.

illus. by Hyewon Yum. 40p. Abrams. Apr. 2021. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781419742255. 

PreS-Gr 1–For all children everywhere, the unfamiliar is hard. When the young narrator of this sweet picture book first gets to South Korea, or the “other side of the ocean,” everything seems strange to him, including his grandfather. They can’t understand each other’s language and the house is “the most boring place on earth,” until the young boy accidentally knocks over one of his grandfather’s beloved potted orchids. Afraid of getting in trouble, the boy cowers, only to find that the old gentleman is ready to comfort him with peaches and a toy car. From then on, the two are inseparable. They enjoy walks in town, ice cream cones, and trips to the beach. By the end of the story, “Now where Grandpas lives, it smells familiar. It sounds familiar. And it feels like home.” Young readers will be comforted and entertained by the evolution of the relationship between the boy and his grandfather, as he goes from a stranger to “a troublemaker. Just like me.” Yum’s witty, brief text perfectly and humorously complements her simple but expressive illustrations. The circumstances will resonate for children who have family far away. VERDICT. A great choice for picture book collections, this will be treasured by families preparing their young ones for a visit with relatives.


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Kirkus review for NOT LITTLE


Author: Maya Myers
Illustrator: Hyewon Yum

Review Issue Date: June 1, 2021
Online Publish Date: May 19, 2021
Publisher:Neal Porter/Holiday House
Pages: 40
Price ( Hardcover ): $18.99
Publication Date: July 6, 2021
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-8234-4619-3
Section: Children's
A small girl makes a big difference.
“I may be small, but I’m not little,” Dot informs readers, chafing at others’ attitudes toward her. She presents as a child of color with light-brown skin and dark hair, which Yum cleverly styles in a bun on top of her head to add some height in the energetic colored-pencil art. She is the smallest person in her interracial family and the smallest person in her class—until Sam arrives. “He might even be smaller than I am,” thinks Dot when the teacher introduces him to the class. He appears to be of Asian descent, and he seems nervous at his new school. Sadly, it turns out his anxiety is well founded when “the mean boy,” a much-taller White boy, picks on him in the cafeteria. Dot intercedes, using her words to interrupt the bullying and then to defend herself when the mean boy says, “What are you going to do about it, little girl?” Yum is at her expressive best when Dot shifts from an anxiety-ridden state depicted with a bullseye of concentric circles surrounding her to a spread devoid of background as Dot bellows from across the gutter at the boy, “I’M NOT LITTLE!” Sam offers thanks and admiration, not to mention his friendship, to bring the story to a satisfying close.
Sure to be a big hit. (Picture book. 3-6)