Fans of the Free To Be You And Me style of children’s literature will appreciate the inspiring message about developing...


A motivational picture book by author Sarno-Doyle designed to teach kids about exploring their own abilities and hobbies.

Using the metaphor of an “inside shape” for the inner being, Sarno-Doyle aims to teach kids to weigh inner values over outer appearances. Written for very young children, the book is bright and full of lively images. In 30-some pages, the author explains the difference between “outside shape” (hair, clothes, ethnicity, etc.) and “inside shape,” the inner interests that children need to develop to become full-fledged, happy individuals. Many of the possible interests here are professional and educational—science, animal welfare, books, mathematics. The book also offers inspiration for kids to develop extracurricular activities, including sports and fishing. There are several open-ended prompts at the beginning of the book to get readers started: “I like to...” or “I don’t like to....” These questions are designed to help children explore their strengths and the skills they want to learn. Interestingly, the author doesn’t linger on the influence of “outside shapes,” such as gender or ethnicity, in shaping individual children’s personal identities, even in a positive manner (like Karen Katz’s The Colors of Us) that could help kids’ self-esteem if they feel externally judged or different from their classmates. The book’s abbreviated length, too, means that the range of topics is narrow. Charmingly illustrated by Jennings with old-fashioned images of children at play, the text will appeal to parents looking for inspiring books for their young children.

Fans of the Free To Be You And Me style of children’s literature will appreciate the inspiring message about developing children’s passions.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0982446102

Page Count: 32

Publisher: SDP Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2013

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.


On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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