From the Tiny Blessings series

Whether used as beginning prayers or to teach an attitude of gratitude, this lovely title and its companion do their parts...

Thick pages, a padded cover, and simple text ensure that this board book will survive a toddler's daily mindfulness practice.

Parents wanting to help their children establish the practice of gratitude and mindfulness will find gentle examples in this and its companion volume, Tiny Blessings for Giving Thanks. Simple, direct sentences address an unspecified “You,” leaving readers free to fill in the blank (Mother Earth, Great Spirit, God, Shakti, Shiva, Kali, Consciousness, Creator, etc.) depending on each family’s belief system. Bedtime evokes nighttime icons—the twinkling stars, a shimmery moon, tender goodnight kisses, and peaceful rest are listed. Giving Thanks starts with “Thank you for this great, big world” before moving to less abstract images that children will easily recognize. Parker's rhyming text is reminiscent of scripture and meditation guides, and it flows smoothly, but with just five page turns it won't burden beginning practitioners. Walsh's art, a sweet mix of collage and greeting-card whimsy, invites a closer look. The smiling children portrayed in a satisfying mix of skin tones model wonderment, joy, and contentment, while the brown-skinned mother in this volume and the white father in Giving Thanks epitomize loving concern.

Whether used as beginning prayers or to teach an attitude of gratitude, this lovely title and its companion do their parts to start mindfulness in the cradle. (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7624-5990-2

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019


A joyful celebration.

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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