From the Big Little Talks series

A calming, helpful title about a childhood rite of passage.

A kid starting school is underwhelmed.

Unsurprisingly, the reluctant scholar expresses grievances: Teachers are mean, it might snow, and the classroom’s always cold. A wise, reassuring parent or caregiver in the background offers counterarguments: School’s warm (in more ways than one) and fun, teachers are kind, and new friends and activities await. What about the protagonist’s (and many children’s) biggest complaint—missing their favorite grown-up? Wouldn’t the adult prefer staying with the child and not being alone either? The caregiver quietly explains they must work but also missed parents when a schoolchild. The best part? “I will be waiting for you.” This is a gentle take on a common experience. The gripes are typical ones; the adult’s rejoinders, sensible and sensitive. The White protagonist is more quickly convinced by the adult that school’s great than actual children might be, but this will assure readers/listeners facing the identical experience. The voices of the child and the mostly unseen grown-up are differentiated by type: The child “speaks” in orange capitals; the adult, in a conventional, black serif type. The sweet, appealing illustrations are inventive; one classmate has brown skin. A reader’s note includes tips for adults to help children beginning school. The same creative team also produced companion titles I Want Everything (2020), about tantrums, and Oh Brother! (2020), about welcoming a new baby in the family.

A calming, helpful title about a childhood rite of passage. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3244-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020


Safe to creep on by.

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. 1, 2021


A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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