A good first peep at mindfulness training if not at Buddhism.

READ REVIEW

THE BAREFOOT KING

A STORY ABOUT FEELING FRUSTRATED

King Creet’s preventative measures for stubbed toes are just unsustainable.

“Long ago there was a young king named Creet. / In his land, people walked with bare feet.” The king’s mind has a tendency to wander, and he’s easily distracted; one day, as he walks down a country road, he stubs his toe most painfully. His solution, after a restless night, is to cover the entire country with soft leather. Everyone in the kingdom works to get it done…but the solution causes slick roads and keeps the rain from the soil. When the king consults his ministers, the wisest offers some mindful advice. With a little thought, mind training, and a little leather—on his feet—the issue is solved. Writer, acting teacher, and mindfulness proponent Nance bases his fable about the origin of shoes on a quote from eighth-century monk Shantideva’s long poem of Buddhist instruction, A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life. The passable couplets get the job done, though without any explicitly Buddhist content, and Holden’s bright illustrations make the tale friendly and inviting. Creet’s kingdom is racially diverse (Creet himself has light-brown skin and black hair), and its inhabitants wear tunics, loose trousers, robes, and the occasional turban. An author’s note locates the origin of footwear in Mesopotamia and discusses the inspirational source material.

A good first peep at mindfulness training if not at Buddhism. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61180-748-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bala Kids/Shambhala

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Creative, comedic, and carrot-loads of fun.

A IS FOR ANOTHER RABBIT

An obsessed narrator creates an alphabet book overrun with rabbits, much to the chagrin of an owl who wants to create a “proper, respectable” alphabet book.

The picture book begins, “A is for A rabbit,” an illustration of a large brown rabbit taking up most of the recto. The owl protagonist—presumably the co-creator of the book—points out that “rabbit” begins with “R.” “Yes, but “a rabbit” starts with A,” says the narrator, before moving on to “B is for bunny,” which, as the owl points out, is just another name for rabbit. Despite the owl’s mounting frustration, the narrator genially narrates several rabbits into existence on almost every single page, rendered with such variety that readers will find their proliferation endlessly amusing. The letter D, for instance, introduces readers to “delightful, dynamic, daredevil RABBITS!” (a herd of biker rabbits), and although the narrator says “E is for Elephant” (which momentarily satisfies the owl), the image depicts several rabbits poorly disguised as an elephant. Much to the owl’s chagrin and, ultimately, exhaustion, the narrator grows more and more creative in their presentation of their favorite animal as the picture book proceeds down a rabbit hole of…well, rabbits! Batsel’s debut picture book for readers already familiar with the English alphabet is funny and highly entertaining. The whimsical narrative and the colorful images make this an excellent elementary-age read-aloud.

Creative, comedic, and carrot-loads of fun. (Picture book. 4-8)/p>)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2950-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Love can be shared in so many ways; reading this together is a start.

LOLA DUTCH I LOVE YOU SO MUCH

Lola Dutch has many ways of communicating her love to her friends.

When each of her anthropomorphic animal friends starts the day grumpy, Lola (a human girl) knows just what to do, and readers of Gary Chapman’s popular 5 Love Languages books will recognize them. She sews cozy pajamas for chilly Gator (receiving gifts), arranges Crane’s strewn-about books in a “Book Nook” (acts of service), organizes an outing to the park for Pig (quality time), and gives Bear a hug (physical touch). In return, her four friends celebrate just how much they appreciate and love her with a banner and a cake (words of affirmation). The rear copyright page includes a small, easily overlooked paragraph citing the book’s inspiration and asking readers how they feel loved and show love to their friends. No information is given about how to determine which love language to use in different situations or with different people. The loosely outlined illustrations are a delight because of the expressive characters and Lola Dutch’s infectious exuberance. Lola is pale-skinned with a brown pageboy. The dust jacket unfolds to show a party scene, Bear and Crane preprinted on the page. Lola Dutch and Gator are paper dolls that can be cut out along with a loving note to share with someone special. Pig is absent.

Love can be shared in so many ways; reading this together is a start. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0117-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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