Well-meaning but misses the mark.




An overview of many adoption scenarios.

The cover art depicts a diverse (several stereotypically so) array of cartoonish children holding hands around a globe. In style it differs greatly from the photographs included on most pages, and this isn’t the only way this well-meaning title falls short. A major misstep is having the eponymous Ally, a white girl who isn’t an adoptee, as narrator, as her lack of immediate connection to adoption undermines her commentary. Ally’s parents are expecting a baby, and this part of her life is juxtaposed with her pregnant babysitter’s decision to place her baby for adoption with Ally’s next-door neighbors. Ally then describes friends and relatives who are adoptees, some of whom are people of color, unlike the others mentioned above, all of whom appear to be white. To the book’s credit, various adoption scenarios are included (stepparent, transracial, international, and kinship), and foster care is mentioned, too. But none of these scenarios is well-developed, lending a disjointed feeling to the book as Ally glosses over others’ stories. Nods to such famous adoptees as Steve Jobs (oddly referred to in the present tense even though he is deceased), gymnast Simone Biles, presidents Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford (the latter not depicted in a photo), and singer Faith Hill are included, as are references to Superman, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and depictions of Jesus and Moses, both depicted as white men. Following Ally's narrative is a two-page note directed at caregivers on how to talk about adoption with children.

Well-meaning but misses the mark. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9794430-8-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: WordSlinger Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year.


From the Love Monster series

The surprised recipient of a box of chocolates agonizes over whether to eat the whole box himself or share with his friends.

Love Monster is a chocoholic, so when he discovers the box on his doorstep, his mouth waters just thinking about what might be inside; his favorite’s a double chocolate strawberry swirl. The brief thought that he should share these treats with his friends is easily rationalized away. Maybe there won’t be enough for everyone, perhaps someone will eat his favorite, or, even worse, leave him with his least favorite: the coffee one! Bright’s pacing and tone are on target throughout, her words conveying to readers exactly what the monster is thinking and feeling: “So he went into his house. And so did the box of chocolates…without a whisper of a word to anyone.” This is followed by a “queasy-squeezy” feeling akin to guilt and then by a full-tilt run to his friends, chocolates in hand, and a breathless, stream-of-consciousness confession, only to be brought up short by what’s actually in the box. And the moral is just right: “You see, sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others…that you start to find out just how much they think of you.” Monster’s wide eyes and toothy mouth convey his emotions wonderfully, and the simple backgrounds keep the focus on his struggle.

A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-00-754030-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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