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 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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Friendship and supportive verbal encouragement help overcome fearful resistance in this pleasant if not especially...

LITTLE IFFY LEARNS TO FLY

Learning to fly is a scary idea for Little Iffy, who is a “bitty griffin…part lion and part eagle.”

Just the thought of being up in the air is terrifying. Little Iffy wonders how he would descend and chooses to safely stay down. Eggs Pegasus, Iffy’s flying-horse friend, hatches several plans on the playground to help him take off. He is encouraged to swing high, go down the slide, or be lifted by his friends and to “flap your wings” each time. But the frightened little griffin politely declines all suggestions. “No, thank you. Down is best.” Searching for the safest spot, Iffy sits on “the down-est place he can find”—the seesaw—only to be thrown straight up in the air when his friends, stacked one on top of each other, tumble onto the raised side. “Whoops!” / “Yikes!” Soaring up, Iffy grabs onto a floating red balloon and begins to descend slowly until a bee’s stinger pops it, sending Iffy down much more rapidly. “FLAP YOUR WINGS, LITTLE IFFY!!!” And just like that, Iffy is flying. It’s hardly an original story, but simple, unencumbered dialogue and easy phrasing carry it along, and little listeners may repeat those heartening words of encouragement. Rounded, digital cartoon art of cuddly mythological creatures (there are also a dragon, faun, and unidentifiable blue figure) in pale hues sustain the central message.

Friendship and supportive verbal encouragement help overcome fearful resistance in this pleasant if not especially remarkable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5039-3986-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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