LUCY CAN'T SLEEP

Restless, sleepless Lucy decides to climb out of bed and wander through her hushed house.

Meandering rhyme bobs up and down in this nocturnal tale, rocking readers with its subtle irregularity and soft tonality. It drifts as Lucy drifts, around her house, into closets and the fridge, onto the porch, back upstairs and, finally, into bed. Dusky blues, purples and pinks establish a muted nighttime world, one through which Lucy perambulates quite comfortably. Children who fear separation and isolation at bedtime might find eye-opening solace in Lucy’s soothing ramble. Quiet solitary play (dressing-up, snacking, listening to far-off music outside, petting the family pup) suddenly seems exactly the way to find peace and slumber. Being alone in cozy darkness ain’t so bad! Lucy’s pleasantly blank, flat face, her wide-set dot eyes and simple u-shaped smile encourage children to identify with her, easily swapping their own experiences, their own faces, with hers. Schwartz’s deceptively simple paintings and line-work deliver enough domestic details (a coiled hose, a stray doll, dirty laundry, scattered bath toys) and slightly skewed perspectives to keep readers engaged, looking into every corner of the family home (just like the nomadic Lucy).

A bedtime book with sweetly anarchic undertones (why stay in bed?), in which verse and artwork lull and soothe to soporific effect. (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-543-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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The joys of counting combine with pretty art and homage to Goodnight Moon.

GOODNIGHT, NUMBERS

This bedtime book offers simple rhymes, celebrates the numbers one through 10, and encourages the counting of objects.

Each double-page spread shows a different toddler-and-caregiver pair, with careful attention to different skin tones, hair types, genders, and eye shapes. The pastel palette and soft, rounded contours of people and things add to the sleepy litany of the poems, beginning with “Goodnight, one fork. / Goodnight, one spoon. / Goodnight, one bowl. / I’ll see you soon.” With each number comes a different part in a toddler’s evening routine, including dinner, putting away toys, bathtime, and a bedtime story. The white backgrounds of the pages help to emphasize the bold representations of the numbers in both written and numerical forms. Each spread gives multiple opportunities to practice counting to its particular number; for example, the page for “four” includes four bottles of shampoo and four inlaid dots on a stool—beyond the four objects mentioned in the accompanying rhyme. Each home’s décor, and the array and types of toys and accoutrements within, shows a decidedly upscale, Western milieu. This seems compatible with the patronizing author’s note to adults, which accuses “the media” of indoctrinating children with fear of math “in our country.” Regardless, this sweet treatment of numbers and counting may be good prophylaxis against math phobia.

The joys of counting combine with pretty art and homage to Goodnight Moon. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain.

THE SOUR CHERRY TREE

With ample emotional subtext, a young girl recalls everyday details about her beloved grandfather the day after his death.

The child bites her mother’s toe to wake her up, wishing that she could have done the same for her baba bozorg, her beloved grandfather, who had forgotten to wake up the day before. She kisses a pancake that reminds her of her grandfather’s face. Her mother, who had been admonishing her for playing with her food, laughs and kisses the pancake’s forehead. Returning to Baba Bozorg’s home, the child sees minute remnants of her grandfather: a crumpled-up tissue, smudgy eyeglasses, and mint wrappers in his coat pockets. From these artifacts the narrator transitions to less tangible, but no less vivid, memories of playing together and looks of love that transcend language barriers. Deeply evocative, Hrab’s narrative captures a child’s understanding of loss with gentle subtlety, and gives space for processing those feelings. Kazemi’s chalk pastel art pairs perfectly with the text and title: Pink cherry hues, smoky grays, and hints of green plants appear throughout the book, concluding in an explosion of vivid green that brings a sense of renewal, joy, and remembrance to the heartfelt ending. Though the story is universally relevant, cultural cues and nods to Iranian culture will resonate strongly with readers of Iranian/Persian heritage. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-414-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Overall, a delightful collection—priced so that it’s easy to buy several to give as gifts.

MY WONDERFUL NURSERY RHYME COLLECTION

Looking for an attractive compendium of nursery rhymes, songs, games, and lullabies all in one place? These 192 pages will deliver the goods, and then some.

The one-page introduction emphasizes the importance of nursery rhymes in the lives of young children: they engage the imagination, develop skills, and foster a love of reading and the spoken word. The contents are organized into six categories that bundle together songs, action rhymes, rhymes about animals, games, counting rhymes, and lullabies. The rhymes are set on full pages or double-page spreads and illustrated with an overall retro look in a mix of styles and media that incorporates thumbprints, collage, cut paper, childlike cartoons, dramatic use of display type, and more. “I’m a Little Teapot” features smiling faces on teapot and cup and a palette of pink, red, and teal, while “Old MacDonald” is rendered in a folk-art style that pops with bright yellows, reds, and greens. Instructions for the action rhymes and the games appear in teeny tiny print at the end of each respective chapter. The die-cut board cover is a plus, as it will stand up to repeated readings. Though each rhyme is illustrated differently, unfortunately and strangely, there is no credit or acknowledgement of the artists. While some of the graphic settings are so overdesigned they are difficult to read, there are so many rhymes that it’s easy enough to skip several and still feel sated.

Overall, a delightful collection—priced so that it’s easy to buy several to give as gifts. (Nursery rhymes. 1-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62686-683-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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