A sweet tale of boyhood friendship that will help young readers learn about making friends and being open to new people.

THE LION

In Baker’s debut picture book, an imaginative boy has trouble fitting in until he meets an open-minded group of new friends.

Five boys spend their time hanging out at Pine Camp, where they build a fort out of “sticks, stones and wind chimes.” They reach the spot by bike and scooter, and once there, they like to spend time reading, snacking, and sharing ideas. One of the boys keeps his treasure buried in a box, which includes pine cones, weeds, and his stuffed lion toy. At a park near the camp, another young boy is playing—but he’s dressed as a lion and can’t seem to get the other kids in the park to play with him. Discouraged by the trouble he has making friends, he runs into the camp, where the boy who buried the treasure eventually finds him. He’s hiding behind a rock, afraid to be turned away from playmates once again. Though there are few words in the story, Baker makes them count, as she does in the boys’ encounter: “The boy with the lion toy stood eye to eye with the boy in the lion suit”—a powerful moment in which the two boys decide what to make of each other. The episode teaches young readers an important lesson: be open and understanding to each other so that, here, the five friends can become six. For readers just starting out, Baker helpfully repeats words (“lion suit,” “Pine Camp,” etc.) throughout the story. Meanwhile, the gorgeously rendered illustrations feature bright colors and small details, such as the lion-suited boy drawing a lion in the dirt. The illustrations also include more details than the text offers, including a map with “Queenie’s Grave,” which may provide more adventurous imagination fodder for readers captivated by the charming world of Pine Camp.

A sweet tale of boyhood friendship that will help young readers learn about making friends and being open to new people.

Pub Date: March 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1508922810

Page Count: 24

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2015

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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