Sneed, Kenesha. Many Shapes of Clay. (2021). Prestel Junior.
Summary: Eisha is a young girl who is courageous and inquisitive. She thoughtfully inquiries about the emotions of her mother who is grieving the recent loss of her husband who is also Eisha’s father. As an artist Eisha’s mother is a sculpturer who creates and stores several pieces of work in her basement studio. One day Eisha makes a piece of art and watches how it changes over a short period of time. She drops the bright yellow piece which reminds her of a lemon, and it breaks into tiny pieces. Along the way she recognizes that she also feels some of the same emotions that her mother is experiencing. In the end, the story comes together as they both embrace how sadness and connecting are part of the healing process. Eisha and her mother weave together a necklace that symbolizes that certain thing can’t be replaced but making the best out of them is the key.
Strengths: The symbolism in this story is extraordinary! Sneed does an awesome job at cultivating her gift as a creator to talk about the emotions associated with grieving. The illustrations really tell the story. The artwork is strategically placed on the pages which provides comfort for someone who may be reading this book for self-help.
Weaknesses: There are no weaknesses. The realistic aspect of this text will allow it to be used for multiple purposes.
Thoughts: This is a stellar read for those who need inspiration as an upcoming illustrator. It is a great book to add to your social emotional learning collection. It can also be used to share with anybody who needs to hear the message, “That which is broken can always recover and be made anew”.
White-Dunsen, Naomi V. Why Am I Here? (2021). Naomi Books, LLC.
Summary: Why Am I Here? All the possibilities are at your fingertips. When
you use your imagination, you can see yourself doing, hearing, and saying so much. Where should you go? Through the jungle, ocean and even the sky there is not any place that you cannot travel to decide where and why! We are all quite different, yet we are the same. You are made to dream! You are made to discover! You are made to be the best you!
Strengths: This book allows readers to explore and identify with feelings about intrapersonal communication for various ages. It is vibrant and empowering to anyone who picks it up.
Weaknesses: There are no weaknesses. This book is full of inspiration however having a main character as a guide throughout the story would have been meaningful.
Thoughts: The collaboration between the author and illustrator are perfect. The text is rich and full of words that helps readers reflect on their opportunities and strengths. School Librarians love to expose students to the idea of “wonder. It helps students stay engaged and think about the possibilities. It places them in the story and helps them truly feel that it could be their reality.