Anodyne.

READ REVIEW

FROM ME TO YOU

An entry in the “I love you and here are some words of wisdom” genre.

The declarative voice here is that of a father, and the figures depicted are human—two grown men and a small child. One is possibly a grandfather, and the younger (or at least slimmer) grown figure seems to be doing most of the parenting. All three figures present white in the illustrations. Brief phrases offer a combination of reassurance (“Time will come soon enough to be big”), advice (“Assemble the maps. But set your own compass”), and hope (“I will stay in your heart. Watching along the way”), with at least one sentimental overreach (“You were born perfect. And it is up to you to stay that way”). The child is very young (“you have yet to grow your two front teeth”—presumably meaning the permanent teeth) and has round dot eyes and a small button nose. The edge-to-edge pencil and watercolor illustration offers a series of vignettes—plowing (with the child atop the horse), apple-picking (the child teetering precariously atop a ladder), tree-climbing, fishing. The lines are animated, the colors fairly muted. While parents and grandparents may get more out of this than a child, the loving, if slightly nebulous, message is heartfelt, and its intent will be clear to a young listener.

Anodyne. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61067-903-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here.

ONE LOVE

A sugary poem, very loosely based on the familiar song, lacks focus.

Using only the refrain from the original (“One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel all right!”), the reggae great’s daughter Cedella Marley sees this song as her “happy song” and adapts it for children. However, the adaptation robs it of life. After the opening lines, readers familiar with the original song (or the tourism advertisement for Jamaica) will be humming along only to be stopped by the bland lines that follow: “One love, what the flower gives the bee.” and then “One love, what Mother Earth gives the tree.” Brantley-Newton’s sunny illustrations perfectly reflect the saccharine quality of the text. Starting at the beginning of the day, readers see a little girl first in bed, under a photograph of Bob Marley, the sun streaming into her room, a bird at the window. Each spread is completely redundant—when the text is about family love, the illustration actually shows little hearts floating from her parents to the little girl. An image of a diverse group getting ready to plant a community garden, walking on top of a river accompanies the words “One love, like the river runs to the sea.”

Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0224-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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