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I DREAMED ABOUT A HIPPOPOTAMUS IN A LIPSTICK FACTORY

A creative take on problem-solving that will encourage young readers.

In Braun’s debut children’s book, an 8-year-old girl embraces her uniqueness after she has an imaginative, insightful dream.

Nicoletta feels anxious when her father accepts a promotion requiring the family to move. She has always had trouble fitting in with her classmates, so starting a new school will be challenging. She also frets about leaving her beloved hammock behind, where she often gets lost in her own thoughts. Nicoletta falls asleep in it and dreams about visiting a lipstick factory called Lipstickland. Her guide is Deloris, a makeup-wearing hippopotamus, and the factory is filled with animals and humans working together in harmony. Nicoletta is shocked at this because it goes “against the natural order of things...like the popular kids working with the nerdy kids.” As Deloris shows Nicoletta around, the workers enlist the girl’s opinions on products. She even helps them pick teams for a soccer tournament and joins in the game. Deloris offers words of wisdom, enabling Nicoletta to reframe the changes in her life: “All you have to do is be open to the possibilities, believe in yourself, and remember you are never alone.” When Nicoletta wakes up, she tells her parents about Lipstickland and explains that she had the dream for a reason: she “needed to work some things out.” Later, at her new school, Nicoletta’s teacher, Mrs. Morris, is kind and caring like Deloris, and Nicoletta makes friends. Braun’s message here is clear: differences should be celebrated, and everyone has their own personality and purpose. The notion of animals coming together is a nice metaphor and Vazan’s (Laughing IS Conceivable, 2015) full-color and monochrome illustrations playfully complement the narrative. Nicoletta is a likable character, and her fears will be relevant for many children. However, at times, the young girls self-talk seems overly precocious; for example, she says, “Fear of judgement was fading, and so were my feelings of loneliness. My imagination, which had been my companion and my friend, was now focused in a new direction.” The main text of the book uses Dyslexie typeface, specifically created to be easier for dyslexics to read.

A creative take on problem-solving that will encourage young readers.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4602-9267-9

Page Count: 60

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2017

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TALES FOR VERY PICKY EATERS

Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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