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), visits Dandelion and pollinates 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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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