GOOD-BYE, CHICKEN LITTLE

Chicken is the name Jimmie Little gave himself because of the fears he developed the summer after his father was killed in a mine accident, but readers will find Jimmie is only sensible, as compared with his mother's beloved, less cautious brother Pete. For here it's not his father's but his uncle's death that is bothering Jimmie, Pete the clown having insisted on walking across a thinly iced-over fiver because of a bet in a bar. Jimmie is in the crowd watching when it happens, and though he runs to the water's edge shouting for Pete to come back, his mother's first reaction is to blame him for not making Pete stop. To make things worse, Jimmie's subsequent brooding ("Did I do enough?") offends his insensitive friend Conrad, and the two boys fight. When his mother suddenly recovers and decides to throw a family party—a sort of celebration of Pete—Jimmie is unable to join in the merriment until, drifting outside and viewing them through the picture window, he sees the fun-loving family as his mother does, unique individuals to cherish. It's a stance Byars has taken all along, cherishing the quirky traits that would be just as easy to scorn. Nevertheless, this crucial final revelation hasn't half the conviction, say, of Jimmie's earlier realization that he doesn't like Conrad. And Byars never really reconciles Pete's tragic childishness with such amusing family foibles as his mother's inept driving and her outspoken 92-year-old uncle's crotchets. Still, Jimmie's feelings throughout are represented in depth, and revealed in flashes of insight that hit the mark; and the story hums with the currents that flow between him and the others.

Pub Date: March 1, 1979

ISBN: 0064402916

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1979

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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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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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