Friday, November 1, 2019

Review - One Big Heart

One Big Heart: A Celebration of Being More Alike than Different
by Linsey Davis & Beverly Davis
illustrated by Lucy Fleming
Date: 2019
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

Linsey Davis, Emmy-winning correspondent for ABC News and author of The World Is Awake, brings us One Big Heart, A Celebration of Being More Alike than Different, a beautiful picture book that celebrates diversity as well as the things we all have in common.

From skin, hair, and eyes in a multitude of colors to different personalities and interests, God gave us all special traits and characteristics that make us uniquely ourselves. And we all have things in common too: like sharing fun and laughter on the playground, a sense of curiosity, big feelings, and so many other things that show how we are all more alike than we are different.

Combining lyrical rhymes and Lucy Fleming’s whimsical art, this inspiring story of inclusion and connection is the perfect read-aloud for kids ages 4 – 8.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I got this one from the library without reading the synopsis. I was a little disappointed to find that it's a rather religious picture book, and as such is not really suited to atheists and non-believers (or anyone who isn't a fan of capital-G God in picture books).

However, this book does have some strong points. The rhyming text is lovely, and deftly does what it sets out to accomplish: show that we have more similarities than differences. The illustrations are, for the most part, wonderful. A diverse selection of children is shown, and there's even one little girl who's missing an arm (I think this is the first time I've seen a child amputee depicted in a picture book).

On the flip side, there are a few issues parents should be aware of. First is the aforementioned religious flavour of the book; that's just not going to fly for some readers. Second, I thought there could've been a little more diversity shown; the children are all very Western, and there was an opportunity missed in the lunchtime illustration to show the kids eating a variety of foods (everything on that table is standard Western-culture lunch fare: e.g., sandwiches, pizza, fruit, and juice boxes.) Finally, there's the issue of the food descriptions for skin colour (which even appear on the back cover, further reinforcing the problem). I'm surprised this made it in, given that the author is a POC herself. Her children might be able to get away with describing people's skin with words like "melon" and "chocolate"... but if a white person's kids did the same thing, they'd be liable to get the side-eye (or worse). If we really want to teach kids that it's not okay to use food adjectives to describe appearances, those descriptions really shouldn't be appearing a children's book.

Some of those issues rather narrow down the audience this book would be appropriate for. It would be great for religious children of colour who are allowed to compare their skin colour to chocolate. But I'd be hesitant to recommend it to those outside of that group, no matter how cute the illustrations are.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: 4/5
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 3 out of 5

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