Keep Your Head Up (Aliya King Neil)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Keep Your Head Up, written by Aliya King Neil and illustrated by Charly Palmer, a beautiful story about dealing with bad days.

D’s morning is not starting off well. No one greeted him when he woke up, his sister used up all his favorite toothpaste, and he forgot his gym uniform and couldn’t play kickball. From there, no matter how hard he tries to keep his head up, he feels his frustration building as things keep going wrong. His “bad day face” goes to feeling “scrunchy” until finally, he has a full-on meltdown. His understanding principal lets D calm down in the office and calls his parents. As he leaves school, D’s day doesn’t look like it’s going to get much better, but even though he doesn’t feel like it, he decides to keep his head up anyway – the important thing is that he wants to try.

Gorgeous in every way. From Palmer’s incredibly expressive impressionist painting-like illustrations to Neil’s lyrical, emotional text, each page is a masterpiece in telling a universally-relatable story in a unique and moving way. Readers of all ages will recognize the feeling of having a day go from bad to worse, and feeling powerless against the frustrations and sorrows that can inspire. Neil chooses to end the book perfectly, showing that sometimes, a bad day is just a bad day to its end, and all we can do is try our best to get through it with grace. Equally affecting is her metaphor for vinyl LPs as people, which honestly brought a tear to my eye. Palmer’s artwork is simply gorgeous, rich in color and tone, and each page could hang framed in a gallery. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ and I both loved it. This is an absolute stunner with a powerful message, and we absolutely recommend it – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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