A paean to imagination and an artful acknowledgment of children’s needs and frustrations, leavened with poignancy and humor.

LOULA IS LEAVING FOR AFRICA

Loula seethes. Sick of three ugly brothers and ignored by dotty parents, she sets out for Africa, making it only as far as the tree in the front yard until Gilbert (the family chauffeur) arrives to assist her on an imaginative safari.

Much feels familiar here: an affluent, plucky girl with an upturned nose and a doting servant (Eloise, anyone?). A round-brimmed straw hat calls to mind a spunky French girl (bonjour, Madeline!). It’s Gilbert, long-legged and lanky in high-waisted trousers, driving cap and bow tie, that makes this story special, sweet and lasting. His elaborate game of pretend, one that turns a city playground into the jungle, desert and rivers of Africa, reveals an utter devotion not only to little Loula, but also to make-believe. “Mademoiselle, please! Don’t put your hand in the water! Piranhas!” he cautions urgently. Gestural ink-and-watercolor illustrations evoke the fantastic fluidity of the imagination, and crisp, copious white space suggests its limitlessness. Yellows and blues appear frequently, making this sunny adventure even sunnier. When Loula and Gilbert reach their destination (a tiny park island) at sunset, the dark squiggly cloud that hovered above Loula’s head on each previous page dissipates in a miniexplosion of elation.

A paean to imagination and an artful acknowledgment of children’s needs and frustrations, leavened with poignancy and humor. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55453-941-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

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 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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The joys of counting combine with pretty art and homage to Goodnight Moon.

GOODNIGHT, NUMBERS

This bedtime book offers simple rhymes, celebrates the numbers one through 10, and encourages the counting of objects.

Each double-page spread shows a different toddler-and-caregiver pair, with careful attention to different skin tones, hair types, genders, and eye shapes. The pastel palette and soft, rounded contours of people and things add to the sleepy litany of the poems, beginning with “Goodnight, one fork. / Goodnight, one spoon. / Goodnight, one bowl. / I’ll see you soon.” With each number comes a different part in a toddler’s evening routine, including dinner, putting away toys, bathtime, and a bedtime story. The white backgrounds of the pages help to emphasize the bold representations of the numbers in both written and numerical forms. Each spread gives multiple opportunities to practice counting to its particular number; for example, the page for “four” includes four bottles of shampoo and four inlaid dots on a stool—beyond the four objects mentioned in the accompanying rhyme. Each home’s décor, and the array and types of toys and accoutrements within, shows a decidedly upscale, Western milieu. This seems compatible with the patronizing author’s note to adults, which accuses “the media” of indoctrinating children with fear of math “in our country.” Regardless, this sweet treatment of numbers and counting may be good prophylaxis against math phobia.

The joys of counting combine with pretty art and homage to Goodnight Moon. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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