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From the Big Bright Feelings series

A helpful reminder that honesty truly is the best policy.

A lie threatens to overwhelm young Finn.

Finn and his sister, Simone, are excited to spend several days at Grandma’s house, which is full of “wonderful, beautiful but VERY fragile things.” While bouncing his ball in the house, Finn accidentally breaks Grandma’s clock. Rather than telling the truth, he tells her that Simone broke it. All weekend long, the lies pile up until finally he comes clean. Percival cleverly illustrates the weight of Finn’s fibs. After he tells his first one, a little blob appears, visible only to him. With each new lie, another blob appears. The blobs make it hard for Finn to snuggle up on the sofa with Grandma and Simone or for him to enjoy his picnic lunch. Once Finn tells the whole truth, however, the blobs pop and disappear, relieving him of their heavy presence. This is an incredibly effective metaphor to help young children understand how lying feels and how it can weigh us down. Percival makes lovely use of color, the vibrant blobs contrasting against the more muted backgrounds. Grandma is a reassuring, affirming presence; little ones will come away aware of the importance of telling the truth. Finn and Simone present Black, while their grandmother presents white. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A helpful reminder that honesty truly is the best policy. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9781547612932

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023

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From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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