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

THE BEAR WHO COULDN'T SLEEP

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 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

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. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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