An engaging work that offers its young target audience a healthy tool for responding to emotionally challenging predicaments.

ONE TO TEN

SQUIRREL'S BAD DAY

When a squirrel cries over her lost hoard of acorns, she eventually lessens her disappointment by adjusting her attitude in this picture book.

Squirrel has an armful of acorns and couldn’t be happier until she trips and her booty drops into a rushing stream. She promptly bursts into tears. What will make her feel better? Prolific author Roman (If You Were Me and Lived in…Israel, 2016, etc.) provides the answer. Here, Squirrel’s mishap provides a lesson in putting difficult situations into perspective, thanks to Rabbit, who suggests that she view her loss through a 1-to-10 rating system, with 10 “being the worst thing ever.” Before Squirrel finds her silver lining, examples of how the system works in practice multiply: Froggy rates his F on a math test as an 8 on the sadness scale but drops it to a 6 when he remembers that he turned in extra credit afterward and earned a gold star. Squirrel and friends are reminded that a rained-out ballgame turned into fun puddle play; Foxy’s embarrassing slip on the ice inspired him to take skating lessons and excel. Roman doesn’t shrink from delivering a more profound example: the death of Squirrel’s Hammy the Hamster, Rabbit says, remains a 10 because “it doesn’t get much worse than this.” On the downside, finding the positives in Deer’s parents’ separation (less tension at home; a finite adjustment period) is simply too facile to be convincing. And it would be helpful to add reassurance in the text that this coping tool doesn’t discount the validity of children’s emotional responses. Visually, the book is a treat. Arkova’s (If You Were Me and Lived in…Viking Europe, 2016, etc.) illustrations—alternately stretching across two pages and appearing as multiple panels on a single page—beguile, with whimsical characters and a woodland setting alive with supple lines and a bright and varied palette.

An engaging work that offers its young target audience a healthy tool for responding to emotionally challenging predicaments.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5395-9066-8

Page Count: 38

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2017

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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