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MIGHTY MUDDY US

From the Feeling Friends series

Nurtures encouragement, grit, and love.

An injured newborn elephant gains strength from a loving older sister.

Ely’s legs are bent and stuck when he’s born, which means he’s unable to stand and go to the watering hole. Big sister Enid trumpets a loud, reassuring song. Her brother tries again and again. He pushes, wobbles, and falls again and again, but he perseveres. Finally, with legs splayed and unsteady, Ely stands! Mama Echo cautions that Ely will still need help. Enid vows to be her brother’s protector. They bellow silly songs: “Too-wee, too-wee, too-weeeee!” and splash in the mud, declaring their sibling strength by shouting, “We are MIGHTY MUDDY US!” But as Ely grows, his independence does, too. His legs still wobble at times, but his adventurous spirit is strong. Enid is sad her brother doesn’t need her anymore, but when a dust storm separates the two, Enid realizes she needs her brother just as much. Levis and Santoso, the duo behind other inspired animal stories such as Feathers Together (2022), bring these lovable pachyderms to life. Dusty, parched, orange-colored scenes give way to joyful water splashing, showing the many, ever-changing conditions elephants face. Sibling support and strong family relationships prevail. An author’s note explains the real-life elephant family that inspired the story.

Nurtures encouragement, grit, and love. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9781419763731

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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