An appealing, playful tale about unique creature learning to fit in.

BÉBERT

OR: HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE THE BUG

A decapod travels to France as a specimen and becomes a member of a scientist’s household in this whimsical tale by Ferebee, the author/illustrator of The Songs that Paper Sings (2015).

When Professor Bagette discovers a 10-legged, one-eyed, spiderlike bug on an island jaunt, he’s eager to get the creature home to his lab in France. There, he shows it to his housekeeper, Madame Gazou, who “never had gotten used to his collection of creepy crawly things!” She does her best to adjust when the new bug grows to enormous size, due to the effects of the professor’s “experimental plant solution.” The homesick bug, whom the professor names Bébert, learns how to be a useful part of the household, cleaning alongside Madame Gazou and keeping his webs to one corner of a room. When Bébert begins to play his web like a harp, the music is so enchanting that Professor Bagette decides to introduce him to the villagers. Though they’re initially afraid, the villagers quickly recognize how remarkable Bébert is, and the town merchants even give him a nice beret and shoes to even his gait. (The French villagers all have pale skin, and their old-fashioned clothing gives the sense of an earlier era than the present.) This whimsical story has plenty of charm, and young, independent readers will find it accessible, despite lengthy sections of text. Ferebee integrates French phrases and honorifics smoothly, and the narrator’s occasional direct statements to the audience (“well, wouldn’t you?”) will encourage lap readers to chime in with responses. However, the author interchangeably uses the terms “insect” and “spider” for 10-legged Bébert, which may have knowledgeable, critter-loving preschoolers up in arms. She also neglects an opportunity to introduce young readers to the definition of the word “decapod.” Her mixed-media illustrations are the book’s highlight, featuring painted backgrounds layered with cutout characters and objects, and they create a soft, enjoyable aesthetic.

An appealing, playful tale about unique creature learning to fit in.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-71487-942-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: Atticus Porch Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

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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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THE NAME JAR

Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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