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

READ REVIEW

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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Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun.

CLOTHESLINE CLUES TO JOBS PEOPLE DO

From the Clothesline Clues series

Heling and Hembrook’s clever conceit challenges children to analyze a small town’s clotheslines to guess the job each of their owners does. 

Close-up on the clothesline: “Uniform and cap, / an invite for you. / Big bag of letters. / What job does she do?” A turn of the page reveals a macro view of the home, van and the woman doing her job, “She is a mail carrier.” Indeed, she can be spotted throughout the book delivering invitations to all the rest of the characters, who gather at the end for a “Launch Party.” The verses’ rhymes are spot-on, though the rhythm falters a couple of times. The authors nicely mix up the gender stereotypes often associated with several of these occupations, making the carpenter, firefighter and astronaut women. But while Davies keeps uniforms and props pretty neutral (he even avoids U.S. mail symbols), he keeps to the stereotypes that allow young readers to easily identify occupations—the farmer chews on a stalk of wheat; the beret-wearing artist sports a curly mustache. A subdued palette and plain white backgrounds keep kids’ focus on the clothing clues. Still, there are plenty of details to absorb—the cat with arched back that anticipates a spray of water, the firefighter who “lights” the rocket.

Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-251-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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