Enigmatic—but warm and almost oddly optimistic.

LASTING LOVE

A child loses their mother, but part of her spirit stays, colorfully embodied.

“Something very beautiful and strange happened when Mama was told she was sick. She came home from the hospital with a magical creature.” The creature’s huge and calm, with floppy ears, a soft texture, and comfortingly unruly fur. Pinks and yellows color its body; tidbits of various hues twinkle around it like stars. Mama’s type of “sick” isn’t defined, and the text says only that she “slips away” and “is gone”; some readers may need help understanding that she dies. The creature—who lives on with the family post-bereavement—is somehow part of Mama, though the equation’s not made specific. The cover tagline (“Losing a loved one doesn’t mean losing their love”) and author’s note convey that the creature is Mama’s love, but the text is cryptic: “The creature is strong, like the strongest part of her. The part that loves me so much.” What’s abundantly clear, though, is that this creature brings warmth and color to a mourning household. Aside from the creature, Heath’s small, gentle drawings are mostly black and white except when the creature’s colors flow onto other beings and objects. Copious white space surrounds the illustrations, showing that nothing matters here except loving Mama, losing her, and finding beauty again afterward. Child, Mama, and the remaining parent all have pale skin.

Enigmatic—but warm and almost oddly optimistic. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-5014-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight.

GRANDUDE'S GREEN SUBMARINE

Following Hey, Grandude (2019), more jolly fun as the title character squires his four young “Chillers” aboard a green sub (where does Sir Paul get his ideas?) to catch up with his partner in adventure: Nandude!

Casting about for something to do on a sweltering day, the multiracial quartet eagerly follows their grizzled White gramps down to an underground chamber where a viridian vessel awaits to take them soaring through the sky to a distant land. There, Grandude’s old friend Ravi plays a tune of Nandude’s that accompanies them after they leave him. It leads them under the sea to an octopus’s garden and a briefly scary tangle with the ink-spraying giant. The monster’s set to dancing, though, as Nandude floats up in her own accordion-shaped ship to carry everyone home for tea, biscuits, and bed in a swirl of notes. Aside maybe from the odd spray of shiny stars here and there, Durst steers clear of sight gags and direct visual references to the film or music in her cheery cartoon scenes. Both she and the text do kit Ravi out, appropriately, with a sitar, but there’s no 1960s-style psychedelia to be seen. Nostalgic adults may be disappointed to see that even the submarine bears no resemblance to the iconic vessel of the film but instead just looks like a plush, smiling toy whale, eyes and all. Children, of course, won’t care. That this book does not try to trade (heavily) on its antecedents makes it a refreshing change from so many other celebrity titles. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-37243-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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