A heartwarming tale of self-discovery and friendship.

EDIE'S ENSEMBLES

A budding fashion maven learns the hard way what defines personal style.

Taking the metaphor of a fashion animal rather literally, Spires here concocts the tale of zany rodentlike Edie and her bird best friend, Andrew. For Edie, “the hall at school [is] her runway,” and she and Andrew delight in spending hours each afternoon choosing the next day’s outfits. Edie revels in the attention her inspired fashion choices bring her, but one day, when no one comments on her elegant scarf or fancy Italian shoes, and her “turquoise cashmere sweater” gains notice only after spilling mustard on it, Edie ups the ante and determines that her next outfit must stop the show. The more attention Edie’s ensembles earn, the more driven she becomes to outdo herself, much to the detriment of her friendship with Andrew and—quite unbeknownst to Edie—her reputation. When her most outlandish design (something of a cross between an accordion and a truck tire) results in her getting stuck in the school entrance, and no one comes to her aid, Edie finally understands that perhaps the most daring fashions are those that allow one’s true self to shine through. Spires’ digitally rendered illustrations place Edie and her friends on expanses of white space, drawing the focus to her fashion excesses while maintaining readers’ sympathy with Edie herself.

A heartwarming tale of self-discovery and friendship. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-77049-490-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one.

WAY PAST WORRIED

Brock may be dressed like a superhero, but he sure doesn’t feel like one, as social anxieties threaten to rain on his fun    .

Juan’s superhero-themed birthday party is about to start, but Brock is feeling trepidatious about attending without his brother as his trusty sidekick. His costume does not fit quite right, and he is already running late, and soon Brock is “way past worried.” When he arrives at the party he takes some deep breaths but is still afraid to jump in and so hides behind a tree. Hiding in the same tree is the similarly nervous Nelly, who’s new to the neighborhood. Through the simple act of sharing their anxieties, the children find themselves ready to face their fears. This true-to-life depiction of social anxiety is simply but effectively rendered. While both Nelly and Brock try taking deep breathes to calm their anxieties without success, it is the act of sharing their worries in a safe space with someone who understands that ultimately brings relief. With similar themes, Brock’s tale would make a lovely companion for Tom Percival’s Ruby Finds a Worry (2019) on social-emotional–development bookshelves. Brock is depicted with black hair and tan skin, Nelly presents White, and peers at the party appear fairly diverse.

Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8686-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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