A heartwarming portrayal of a family embracing disability.

DANCING WITH DADDY

A nonverbal girl who uses a wheelchair anticipates a father-daughter dance in Schulte’s debut.

As Elsie and her mother shop for the perfect dress, Elsie ponders: Pink or red? Red matches Daddy’s soccer jersey—a red dress it is! Her supportive sisters are thrilled for her, too. But it’s snowing harder and harder. What if the dance is canceled? Refreshingly, Elsie’s disability is seamlessly presented as simply another aspect of family life; for instance, as Elsie’s sisters slurp up noodles with chopsticks, Daddy matter-of-factly gives Elsie a “push” of liquid food through a feeding tube. Pops of rhyme or alliteration add pep to the straightforward text: “Inside, daughters dashed. Ponytails bounced. Dresses flounced.” Inspired by the author’s daughter, who has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, Elsie is delightfully expressive. Elsie’s italicized thoughts convey her worry and excitement; she “can’t wait to see [her] dress spin.” Her face, bearing characteristic features of the disorder, radiates emotion. She frowns forlornly at fat snowflakes and beams with infectious joy as her sisters help her “[find] her groove.” Whether she’s pointing to pictures in her communication book or anxiously indicating her missing hair bow, her family is warmly attentive. As she swings and sways in her father’s arms, her forehead against his, their love is palpable; Chen’s illustrations fairly glow with affection. Elsie and her family are cued as East Asian.

A heartwarming portrayal of a family embracing disability. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0719-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best.

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THE SMART COOKIE

From the Food Group series

This smart cookie wasn’t alwaysa smart cookie.

At the corner of Sweet Street stands a bakery, which a whole range of buns and cakes and treats calls home, including a small cookie who “didn’t feel comfortable speaking up or sharing” any ideas once upon a time. During the early days of gingerbread school, this cookie (with sprinkles on its top half, above its wide eyes and tiny, smiling mouth) never got the best grades, didn’t raise a hand to answer questions, and almost always finished most tests last, despite all best efforts. As a result, the cookie would worry away the nights inside of a cookie jar. Then one day, kind Ms. Biscotti assigns some homework that asks everyone “to create something completely original.” What to do? The cookie’s first attempts (baking, building a birdhouse, sculpting) fail, but an idea strikes soon enough. “A poem!” Titling its opus “My Crumby Days,” the budding cookie poet writes and writes until done. “AHA!” When the time arrives to share the poem with the class, this cookie learns that there’s more than one way to be smart. John and Oswald’s latest installment in the hilarious Food Group series continues to provide plenty of belly laughs (thanks to puns galore!) and mini buns of wisdom in a wholly effervescent package. Oswald’s artwork retains its playful, colorful creative streak. Although slightly less effective than its predecessors due to its rather broad message, this one’s nonetheless an excellent addition to the menu.(This book was reviewed digitally.)

A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304540-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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