This beach tale sends the mixed message that kids should feel good about themselves—if they’re amazing.

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CECIL AND THE BIG WAVE

From the Cecil the Littlest Ant series

A bullied little ant surfs his way to confidence, proving that small creatures can accomplish great things in this picture book.

Cecil is a young ant who comes every day to play in Aardvark Park, but the other kids bully him for being small. One day, upset, he runs down to Anthill Beach, where he encounters his Uncle Juba, who sports dreadlocks and speaks in patois. He tells Cecil: “Feeling good about yourself is more important than what others t’ink.” Observing Surfer Ant riding the waves, Cecil is inspired, begging Uncle Juba to teach him how to surf. After some lessons and at least one wipeout, Cecil is ready. The next day on the beach, he walks right past the mean ants and runs boldly toward the rough water they’re afraid to try. He rides a huge wave, and everyone is impressed. They praise him, apologizing for the teasing, and Cecil forgives them, having realized that “being little doesn’t mean you can’t do whatever you want.” Jones (Fate Ball, 2016) aims to encourage kids to set targets, practice, and gain confidence. These are commendable goals, and mastering skills is a superb self-esteem booster, but why must Cecil prove himself a star to win the same friendliness all of the others get to enjoy just for being themselves? (In this, he’s much like Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer.) Debut illustrator Pastori’s images are clever—Cecil’s hair looks like ant larvae—well-composed and appropriately dynamic.

This beach tale sends the mixed message that kids should feel good about themselves—if they’re amazing.

Pub Date: April 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9972118-1-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2017

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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