A mostly compassionate primer on manners that also recognizes that no one, not even a dragon, is perfect.

WHEN A DRAGON COMES TO STAY

What would you expect when a dragon comes to play and sleep over?

Only the best-behaved dragon ever. This small green dragon and her sibling companions, a small, Black-presenting child and somewhat older Asian-presenting child, spend the day at the siblings’ house. A pattern in the text emerges. “When a dragon comes to” stay, play, eat, and get ready for bed, readers are asked to evaluate the dragon’s behavior. “At dinner, does a dragon slurp? / Or throw her food or moan or burp? / And does she spill food on the floor? / Or bang her spoon? Or bellow, ‘More!’?” Even the youngest listeners will soon know the answer and chime in. “Why, no! Dragons don’t do / that!” Then, in the text that follows, the dragon models good manners and helpful behavior. But even this dragon isn’t perfect. “[I]f she’s overtired or sad, / that’s when a dragon might turn bad.” Describing the dragon, and not her behavior, as “bad” for the sake of a rhyme is distressing, but the text also offers several suggestions to turn the dragon’s mood around. Beardshaw’s illustrations, largely in a saturated pastel palette, depict a cute, snubby-snouted, and not-at-all-scaly dragon, and they add quietly humorous details to enhance a calm but never boring read. Both concept and pattern are reminiscent of Jane Yolen and Mark Teague’s How Do Dinosaurs…? series, but this title has a much more domesticated feel. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-21-inch double-page spreads viewed at 51% of actual size.)

A mostly compassionate primer on manners that also recognizes that no one, not even a dragon, is perfect. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3448-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A simple story enhanced by its funny, gently ironic illustrations.

MY GOOD MORNING

A little girl diligently gets ready for her day but leaves lots of messes in her wake.

The unnamed girl has light brown skin and dark brown curls similar to her dad’s, and her mom is white. The characters in the digital illustrations have big, exaggerated eyes. The child narrates the text matter-of-factly in simple rhyming sentences: “Time to go potty. I can do this! / Mommy is there to make sure I don’t miss.” Each double-page spread presents a slightly different, humorous visual interpretation of the situation, and it’s in this juxtaposition that the book shines. The cat’s in the hamper, underwear and socks are on the floor, and the pink toilet paper is trailing all over. The two parents seem a little overwhelmed. As they both try to get the girl into her clothes, one arm escapes, and the dad is really sweating from exertion. She insists on tying her laces and buttoning her coat, and the illustrations show the exuberant but incomplete results. As the girl grabs her backpack, her apple rolls out, and Mommy has to grab it. At school, she hangs her coat up, but somehow it lands on the floor (her scarf is also awry), and observant viewers will notice that her shoelace is still untied. In her diverse classroom, she proudly announces: “But this time Daddy, I won’t cry”—and now readers can believe her: there’s nary a tear in sight.

A simple story enhanced by its funny, gently ironic illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60537-342-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A visual feast for families interested in seeing the Native world through small, kind deeds.

WHEN WE ARE KIND

Distinctive illustrations amplify a pointed moral lesson in this Native picture book for kids.

An intergenerational Native family sits in a drum circle on the cover, suggesting the importance of cooperation and community that’s elucidated in the pages that follow. What does it mean to be kind to your family, your elders, your environment, and yourself? In simple, repetitive language, Smith (who is of mixed Cree, Lakota, and Scottish heritage) explores how our behaving with generosity toward others makes us feel happy in return. By helping with laundry, walking the family dog, sharing with friends, and taking food to our elders, we learn that the gift of kindness involves giving and receiving. The first half of the book is constructed entirely on the phrase “I am kind when,” while the second half uses “I feel.” Strung together, the simple statements have the resonance of affirmations and establish a clear chain of connectedness, but there is no story arc in the conventional sense. What the book lacks in plot, it makes up for with its illustrations. Drawing on her mother’s Diné traditions, Neidhardt prominently features Navajo hair buns, moccasins, and baskets; a panoply of Indigenous characters—including one child who uses a wheelchair—is featured in rich detail. A French edition, translated by Rachel Martinez, publishes simultaneously.

A visual feast for families interested in seeing the Native world through small, kind deeds. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2522-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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