A well-intentioned but problematic tale.


A new student rouses jealousy in this third picture book in the Alycat series.

Alycat, a kitten, hopes she can sit next to one of her friends on a field trip bus ride, but her mother assures her that “You’ll have fun no matter who you sit with.” At school, there’s a new kitten student, Phoebe. Aly feels left out when Phoebe and Alycat’s friend Luna sit together on the bus and exchange friendship bracelets. At the clinic, Dr. Katz explains that the heart has outer, inner, and middle layers. This dubious physiological information inspires Aly to make three friendship bracelets. She gives Luna and Phoebe one each, keeping a third for herself, and Phoebe thanks her two new best friends for a wonderful first day. Bourque (Alycat and the Monday Blues, 2017, etc.) provides a practical solution for dealing with jealousy and welcoming newcomers. However, the message has some odd undertones; few adults would agree they’d have fun on a trip “no matter who [they] sit with,” for example, and Alycat’s bracelets could be seen as an instance of the constant emotional labor that’s expected of women. Also, as visible symbols, bracelets can be used to exclude as well as include. Returning illustrator Civati’s illustrations, though, give the book a charming retro feel. Bracelet-making instructions are included.

A well-intentioned but problematic tale.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68401-903-8

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Mascot Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

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A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached.


A little girl in a town of white snow and soot-blackened chimneys opens a small box and discovers a never-ending gift of colorful yarn.

Annabelle knits herself a sweater, and with the leftover yarn, she knits one for her dog, and with the yarn left over from that, she knits one for a neighbor and for her classmates and for her teacher and for her family and for the birdhouse and for the buildings in town. All and everything are warm, cozy and colorful until a clotheshorse of an archduke arrives. Annabelle refuses his monetary offers, whereupon the box is stolen. The greedy archduke gets his just deserts when he opens the box to find it empty. It wends its way back to Annabelle, who ends up happily sitting in a knit-covered tree. Klassen, who worked on the film Coraline, uses inks, gouache and colorized scans of a sweater to create a stylized, linear design of dark geometric shapes against a white background. The stitches of the sweaters add a subdued rainbow. Barnett entertained middle-grade readers with his Brixton Brothers detective series. Here, he maintains a folkloric narrative that results in a traditional story arc complete with repetition, drama and a satisfying conclusion.

A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-195338-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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