A sweet tale of two girls growing to understand their grandmother’s illness.

READ REVIEW

WHO WILL HEAR BEGONIA?

Two sisters learn an important lesson from their dog about how love can transcend illness in this debut picture book.

Begonia the dachshund just wants to go with her human family to visit Nana. But Begonia is too dirty because she was digging for flowers for Nana. The pooch is left at home when her pale-skinned humans—Emma, Kara, and their mom—take a gift to Nana they are sure will make her smile. But even when Nana opens the present, a quilt with her favorite birds, her “memory illness” means she doesn’t smile. Emma and Kara hatch a plan to make Nana laugh, and Begonia wants to help, but again she is left at home. When Kara and Emma’s best efforts fail, they realize that maybe what they need is exactly what Begonia is offering: a little canine love. The dog and the girls succeed, and even though Nana is still lost in memories, her love shines through. Coping with a grandparent with memory loss or a mental illness can be very difficult, and Gable captures that situation in the frustration of the girls and in their determination to reach their grandparent. Debut illustrator Stephenson's soft-hued images in ink and watercolor evoke the book’s subdued tone while also showing Begonia’s exuberance. The repeated phrase, “But no one hears Begonia,” gives lap readers a moment to chime in during the touching story.

A sweet tale of two girls growing to understand their grandmother’s illness.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: White Orchard Press

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Like a faithful teddy, sure to become a favorite for many readers.

LOUIS

A hug is a powerful thing.

Louis, a stuffed teddy bear, has grievances: His owner, a dark-haired kid with light-brown skin, has mistreated Louis in a variety of ways, including using the bear as a hankie, burying the toy in the sand, and subjecting him to the terrors of the washing machine. After Louis suffers the final indignity—almost being left behind on public transportation—the bear plans to make his escape. Savvy readers may surmise that Louis’ heart isn’t completely in this grand departure, as the teddy delays based on rain, cupcake-filled tea parties, and being the star of show-and-tell due to bravery during the bus incident. When the perfect moment to desert finally arrives, a last-minute hug helps Louis realize how much the kid loves and appreciates him. It’s a charming, genuinely sweet ending to a well-crafted story that leaves lots of openings for Rowan-Zoch’s boldly colored, crisp cartoon artwork to deliver a vibrant pop that will be appreciated in both large storytimes and intimate lap reads. Louis is marvelously expressive, panicking, glaring, and unexpectedly softening by turns. Caregivers and educators may see an opportunity in the story to engage in creative writing or storytelling based on the readers’ own favorite stuffed friends. Louis’ owner’s mom appears in one scene wearing a salwar kameez, suggesting the family is of South Asian heritage.

Like a faithful teddy, sure to become a favorite for many readers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-49806-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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