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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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

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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