A pleasing and realistic approach to self-esteem.

THE PERFECT DANDELION

A young dandelion discovers her true value in this illustrated children’s book.

With all the flowers preparing to compete at the Spring Concert, Dandelion feels she can’t measure up. While other blooms offer an array of hues and scents and are treasured in gardens, dandelions aren’t prized at all; no one picks them for bouquets or love tokens. “Let’s face it, Mama, no one likes a weed,” says Dandelion, crying. Although her mother reassures her that good looks aren’t everything and she’ll find her place in life, Dandelion isn’t so sure, seeing nothing but facing a weed killer or getting dug up in her future. Sitting down to sob, Dandelion gets some sympathy from a blade of grass who’s always getting stepped on, but she doesn’t listen, too caught up in her unhappiness. Then an array of insects seeking nectar, some to sustain them on long journeys (like Beatrice the butterfly), visit Dandelion and pollinate her. The insects are grateful, and Dandelion is pleased she can make them happy. She also notices that a gardener prizes her leaves for dandelion tea. In the end, Dandelion happily attends the concert, with a new understanding of how special she really is. In her book, Fabiano encourages self-acceptance and appreciation of differences. While acknowledging that Dandelion doesn’t have the glamour of other flowers, the author provides good examples of her actual strengths. Vivid writing keeps the story from becoming overly didactic, as in “The lavender spread their scent, bringing calm to all, while the daisies, with their golden petals growing from chocolate-coloured centres, spread like fire.” Discussion points also provide adults an opening to explore concepts further with kids. In his second children’s book, Santos provides sunny digital illustrations with amusing anthropomorphic features and details; Dandelion, for example, wears tennis shoes.

A pleasing and realistic approach to self-esteem.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5255-6886-2

Page Count: 29

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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