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



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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An unabashed love letter from mother.


From the Little Pookie series

A sweet celebration of the bond between a mother and her Pookie.

The eighth installment in this always charming series eschews the episodic drama and silliness of earlier outing such as Spooky Pookie (2015) in favor of a mom’s-eye-view celebration of her child and the time they spend together. There is, of course, nothing wrong with drama and silliness. But while the lack of conflict and plot in favor of unapologetic sentiment makes this book a quick read, that doesn’t make it any less endearing. The rhymed verse captures a mother’s wonder as she observes the many facets of her child’s personality: “Ah, Pookie. My little one. My funny one. My child. // Sometimes you are quiet. Sometimes you are wild.” On the simple joys of shared moments, she notes, “I love to go walking with you by my side. / I love when we sing when we go for a ride. // And I love just to watch as you think and you play. / The way that you are is a wonderful way.” Paired with author/illustrator Boynton’s irresistible renderings of a porcine mommy and her playful, snuggly little piglet, the result is impossible to fault. Whether quietly reading, running in a tiger suit, singing with mom in the car, ears flapping in the breeze, or enjoying the safety of mom’s embrace, Pookie’s appeal continues unabated.

An unabashed love letter from mother. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3723-4

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among


Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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