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I WANNA BE A COWGIRL

This well may lead young readers to some pretending of their own.

“Way out west, the warm winds blow.”

A snub-nosed, tousle-haired little white girl narrates life as a cowgirl in poetic, measured rhyme, while appealing paintings rendered in watercolor, gouache, colored pencil, and Photoshop show a day of imaginative play. Simple, catchy text with a repeating line combines with a bright palette full of shiny red to follow the active, enthusiastic youngster and her trusty pup and kitten as she sets out with cowboy boots (rain boots), lasso (jump rope), and horse (hobby horse). Her day includes a visit to the chicken coop (doghouse), chores such as milking the cow (hanging the laundry) and shearing the sheep (brushing the dog), a swim in the creek (inflatable pool), some grub (sandwiches), and sleeping under the stars (they are printed on her blanket). “Home on the range, I’ll close my eyes. / I’ll snuggle up until sunrise. / I’ll sleep beneath the starry skies. / And dream… // that I’m a cowgirl!” While it’s not a novel concept—tomboys, especially white ones, are represented in children’s books aplenty—the charming and energetic story is easy to follow, and the give-and-take between imagination and real life is well-executed.

This well may lead young readers to some pretending of their own. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5299-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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MAYBE

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 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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CINDERELLA

From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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