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Cuddle up with this Bear and his pillow for a just-right bedtime story.

Bear’s mother and brothers are comfortably hibernating for the winter, while he tosses and turns.

Unable to fall asleep, he heads for the bright lights of New York City, where he enjoys the Thanksgiving Day parade, attends an opera, and sees the Statue of Liberty. He encounters other animals at the zoo and in the park, and he falls in love with a Jackson Pollock painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All that activity finally tires him out, but now he can’t find a place to settle down amid the constant noise and movement of the city that never sleeps. Finally he finds his way home to his forest and family and settles down for a long sleep. Bears and their habits are very popular picture-book subjects, and there have been a great many animals, humans, and imaginary characters who have visited the Big Apple. Nastro brings a fresh perspective with well-paced, simple, descriptive text set in type that’s woven seamlessly around and through Nastanlieva’s bright, detailed illustrations. Dressed in pajamas and toting his pillow, Bear displays curiosity, bewilderment, awe, joy, and, eventually, frustration and exhaustion, all with very slight adjustments to his facial features. Sharp-eyed young readers will notice that a small golden bird unobtrusively accompanies Bear throughout his adventures.

Cuddle up with this Bear and his pillow for a just-right bedtime story. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4268-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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