Bear and Mouse are the 21st-century Damon and Pythias—kids who haven't met them yet will be happy they've encountered them...

READ REVIEW

THE SNIFFLES FOR BEAR

From the Bear and Mouse Adventures series , Vol. 4

Bear is sure no one could possibly be as sick as he is.

Bear has a miserable cold. His throat hurts, his snout is sore and red and he has retired to his chair to wallow in his misery. Enter Mouse, who is determined to make everything better. He is unrelentingly cheerful as he reads to Bear, sings to him and makes him soup.  Bear is completely unappreciative and makes pronouncements about his weakness and trembling, and the “gravity of the situation.” He even dictates his will. After a long restful sleep, he feels much better, but now it is Mouse who is ill and Bear who provides care and sympathy. Bear is very much a diva, and Mouse is patient and kind. Becker employs a lively mix of dramatic, over-the-top dialogue, with a plethora of descriptive language to set the tone. Denton’s watercolor, ink and gouache illustrations are just right as they depict Bear in all his suffering glory. The double-page spread at the center, showing Mouse dragging a weak and helpless Bear up the stairs, is hilarious. This funny, gentle homily about friendship and selflessness begs to be read aloud with young readers acting out the parts.

Bear and Mouse are the 21st-century Damon and Pythias—kids who haven't met them yet will be happy they've encountered them now. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4756-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations.

I BELIEVE I CAN

Diversity is the face of this picture book designed to inspire confidence in children.

Fans of Byers and Bobo’s I Am Enough (2018) will enjoy this book that comes with a universal message of self-acceptance. A line of children practices ballet at the barre; refreshingly, two of the four are visibly (and adorably) pudgy. Another group tends a couple of raised beds; one of them wears hijab. Two more children coax a trepidatious friend down a steep slide. Further images, of children pretending to be pirates, dragons, mimes, playing superhero and soccer, and cooking, are equally endearing, but unfortunately they don’t add enough heft to set the book apart from other empowerment books for children. Though the illustrations shine, the text remains pedagogic and bland. Clichés abound: “When I believe in myself, there’s simply nothing I can’t do”; “Sometimes I am right, and sometimes I am wrong. / But even when I make mistakes, I learn from them to make me strong.” The inclusion of children with varying abilities, religions, genders, body types, and racial presentations creates an inviting tone that makes the book palatable. It’s hard to argue with the titular sentiment, but this is not the only book of its ilk on the shelf.

Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266713-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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