A double pleasure for old friends and new readers alike.

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DOUBLE TROUBLE FOR ANNA HIBISCUS!

From the Anna Hibiscus series

When twins arrive, Anna Hibiscus finds it hard to share her extended family.

Atinuke’s latest picture book is not so much about “Amazing Africa” as it is about adjusting to a new sibling—worse, two of them. This gentle, appealing story begins on the title page with Anna Hibiscus resting against her mother’s obviously pregnant tummy. Soon, she’s introduced to the new babies: “That big bump was brothers,” she tells her cousins. Not surprisingly, all the adults in her extended family are either suddenly busy or still sleeping. Angry and jealous, Anna hides and cries, but soon it is her turn for some attention and affection. Anna’s strong emotions will be familiar to any older sibling. Her body language is remarkably expressive in Tobia’s colorful illustrations, spots and full-page scenes that often spill across the gutter. There are fascinating details, especially in the endpaper scenes showing Anna's family’s modern African home in its urban context. There’s lots going on inside their cluster of homes, too. Readers and listeners who meet this lively child for the first time in this universal story will likely be intrigued enough by her mixed-race family and her culturally different but oh-so-similar life to go on to other Anna Hibiscus episodes, in both picture and chapter books.

A double pleasure for old friends and new readers alike. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61067-367-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year.

LOVE MONSTER AND THE LAST CHOCOLATE

From the Love Monster series

The surprised recipient of a box of chocolates agonizes over whether to eat the whole box himself or share with his friends.

Love Monster is a chocoholic, so when he discovers the box on his doorstep, his mouth waters just thinking about what might be inside; his favorite’s a double chocolate strawberry swirl. The brief thought that he should share these treats with his friends is easily rationalized away. Maybe there won’t be enough for everyone, perhaps someone will eat his favorite, or, even worse, leave him with his least favorite: the coffee one! Bright’s pacing and tone are on target throughout, her words conveying to readers exactly what the monster is thinking and feeling: “So he went into his house. And so did the box of chocolates…without a whisper of a word to anyone.” This is followed by a “queasy-squeezy” feeling akin to guilt and then by a full-tilt run to his friends, chocolates in hand, and a breathless, stream-of-consciousness confession, only to be brought up short by what’s actually in the box. And the moral is just right: “You see, sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others…that you start to find out just how much they think of you.” Monster’s wide eyes and toothy mouth convey his emotions wonderfully, and the simple backgrounds keep the focus on his struggle.

A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-00-754030-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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