A lively, innovative story of friendship that encourages readers to think creatively.

NOW WHAT?

A girl beats boredom via invention and a new pal in Faatz’s picture book.

Lizzy feels restless on a “gray” day. After some unsuccessful indoor activities, she takes her dog outside to play and discovers a box of kittens. Her parents say it “isn’t wise if you get them in litters,” so Lizzy sets up a lemonade stand and finds homes for the kittens. Lizzy, who’s White, notices new neighbors moving in, including a Black girl named Luna. The girls unpack boxes together and play with the contents, including musical instruments and chalk. As they build a spaceship out of the empties, a “runaway” kitten pops out! They turn their spaceship into a fort where they stay cozy alongside Lizzy’s dog and the kitten while it rains. The girls notice the rain smeared their chalk hopscotch grid. Using brushes, chalk dust, “some dots here and a splotch of paint there,” they elaborate the streaks to create gigantic, decorative rainbow designs. They celebrate their artistry with their animal companions. Using rhythmic language (“Drippidy drizzle and plippedy plop”), Faatz adds an artistic spin to a cheerful friendship tale. The story also depicts finding inspiration in unexpected ways. Trimarco’s illustrations use various textures and tones, and the spreads featuring colorful chalk designs are delightful. Some scenes feature subtext, like the kitten hiding behind images.

A lively, innovative story of friendship that encourages readers to think creatively.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73335-482-0

Page Count: 46

Publisher: Notable Kids Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2021

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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