Just Help!: How To Build a Better World

Philomel. Jan. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593206263.
Gr 1-3–Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to serve on the Supreme Court, encourages readers to be good citizens and community members in this new book. First she recounts her childhood observations of her mother, who was a nurse and would ask young Sonia, “How will you help today?” Sonia decided to help by bringing supplies to school because the students were making care packages for soldiers overseas. This launches a lifetime passion to be of service to others. The book then highlights other friends and their acts of service. Brooklyn helps sea animals, Gabriela and her brother cleanup the playground, Jasper makes toy donations to a children’s hospital, and Simone helps campaign for an election. The illustrations are a splash of color and beautiful tapestry of diverse faces and cultures. The message comes back full circle to Sonia and her mother getting ready for bed, and now the answer to her mother’s question includes how the bus driver helped her get to school and postal workers delivered packages. This title turns a name in their history books into a warm and relatable presence in children’s lives.
VERDICT For use in civics units or in lessons on being a good neighbor, this provides wonderful encouragement to show that children can help in big and small ways.

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