Our World Is a Family by Miry Whitehill and Jennifer Jackson, illustrated by Nomar Perez

Our World Is a Family by Miry Whitehill and Jennifer Jackson, illustrated by Nomar Perez. Sourcebooks Explore, 2022. 9781728231839

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Advance Reader’s Copy picture book

What did you like about the book? A cheery, colorful tone underlies a serious message about welcoming migrants and refugees into local communities.  Readers are reminded about how much they may have in common with children all over the world, most importantly that “people everywhere want to feel safe and loved and important.” The text provides gentle and kid-friendly explanations about why people may need to leave their homes, whether as a result of natural disaster or political upheaval, and the challenges they face both during their travel and upon arrival in new places.  “How can we make them feel safe and loved and important?”  The authors encourage such simple acts such as smiling, waving, sharing food, and playing together, even learning phrases like ‘I’m here’ and ‘I love you’ in a new language to show new friends they are welcome.

A diverse cast of children and families traverse the pages of this uplifting book, in a variety of situations and settings.  The vibrant illustrations call to mind the work of Christian Robinson or Suzanne Kaufman’s school children in All Are Welcome, and will probably produce the same positive effect on the reader, that of promoting a sense of inclusivity and much-needed empathy.  And while the overall theme of the book is upbeat, it certainly can and will pave the way for important conversations and further research.

Anything you did not like about the book?  No

To whom would you recommend this book? Primary grade readers will enjoy it at face value for its positive message and cheerful illustrations. It will certainly also be an effective read aloud in schools and communities preparing to welcome a new classmate or neighbor.

Who should buy this book? Preschools, public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Picture books

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: December 30, 2021

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