Another life lesson neatly packaged in childcentric humor.

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IT IS (NOT) PERFECT

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Kang and Weyant’s bear pals practice self-regulation in a quest for perfection.

Two bears (one purple, one brown) build a sand castle together on the beach. “Pat pat pat” goes the shovel and bucket as they mold their creation into the right shapes. As the purple bear puts one last shell in place, the brown bear declares that the castle is “perfect.” But the purple bear has another idea: “It needs flags.” They add twigs to the castle’s turrets. Then the brown bear decides the towers could be taller, so—“pat pat pat”—they build some more. Other furry, anthropomorphic characters begin to crowd the beach and offer their creative feedback for additional components. Finally, a gigantic furry creature (seen only as an enormous foot and shin that extends up past the frame of the page) bellows “MOAT!” The bear pals try to accommodate every idea on the exhaustive list as the other animals watch. Eventually, their teamwork pays off with a resulting sand castle that’s big enough to fill a double-page spread. But, wait, is that a wave headed straight for the beach? Uh oh! As with the other books in the You Are (Not) Small series, this entry effectively uses simple dialogue to drive the story. Most text is printed in extra-large type and is easy to read, with plenty of white space and clear lines connecting dialogue to speakers. Weyant’s colorful cartoon illustrations add a lightheartedness to what could be a stressful real-life situation for kids.

Another life lesson neatly packaged in childcentric humor. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1662-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 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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A nice sentiment marred somewhat by its forced verse.

A BOOK OF LOVE

A how-to book of love.

Valentine’s Day brings a new crop of books each year about love, including at least one that attempts to define and exemplify love. This is that book for 2020. “We often show our love with touch, / like a great big hug or kiss. / But there are lots of ways to show you care, / and ideas not to miss.” These include being patient, listening to someone who’s having a tough day, gifts, kind deeds (like washing the dishes), “forgiving and forgetting,” sharing with siblings, standing up for people, and looking past faults. In some cases, the pictures may not aid much in comprehension, especially with the younger audience the rhymes are meant to appeal to: “To offer a gentle word or two, / and consider how others feel, / are both examples of selfless acts / that prove your love is real” (one child cheers on a frightened soloist at a recital—does that really illustrate selflessness?). The meter is sometimes off, and in a few cases it’s clear words were chosen for rhyme rather than meaning. Bright illustrations fill the pages with adorable children readers can trace throughout the book. The final two spreads are the strongest: One depicts a robustly diverse crowd of people all holding hands and smiling; the other is a starry spread over a neighborhood full of homes, hearts spangling the sky.

A nice sentiment marred somewhat by its forced verse. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9331-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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