SUN

A visual treat for the young imagination

A boy named Sun has a close encounter with a fox.

In this immensely appealing fantasy, the minimalist text takes a back seat to the boldly colorful illustrations. The central figure is Sun, a young boy who is introduced as a “soccer star.” But this picture book is not about soccer—it’s rather about Sun’s awareness that “something was missing.” Observing that his younger brother, Pablo, “looked happy” while “making art,” Sun heads for the beach, recalling that “he used to make art too.” Awaiting Sun are an unexpected encounter with a fox and a rekindling of his creativity, expressed in an explosion of collage-style montages. The spread in which the fox shows Sun how to make art is a fabulously messy composition, colorful scrawls and squiggles in the background recalling Pablo’s exuberant experimentation on the walls even as Sun and the fox build sculptures out of found objects. Feeling “connected” at last, Sun notices that the day is drawing to a close and returns to an undefined “home” (sans parents), where he and Pablo explore their creativity together in a space that has the look of the outdoors but with those vigorous, unbridled scrawls and squiggles again on a blue-sky backdrop. The soccer-themed introduction feels superfluous, as the not-so-subtle message concerns the magic of art and nature. Both boys have dark brown skin and textured black hair.

A visual treat for the young imagination . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-78162-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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