A warming study of friendship, loss, and new friendship. (Picture book. 4-8)

READ REVIEW

GOODBYE, FRIEND! HELLO, FRIEND!

With the help of family, friends, and passing time, Stella learns that “every goodbye… / …leads to a hello.”

The old adage “every ending leads to a new beginning” springs warmly to life as Doerrfeld’s gentle prose and soft, lively illustrations meander through an idyllic childhood. Young Stella may be reluctant to leave Mom and venture to school, but Stella quickly finds a best friend in bespectacled Charlie, and the two become inseparable. As seasons pass, they bid goodbye to beloved times and pastimes only to joyfully usher in new ones: Playing outside becomes playing inside, winter becomes summer, day becomes night. The repetitive prose pattern breaks hauntingly in the throes of Stella’s grief when Charlie moves away. Resilience, however, is this story’s driving force, and an ending montage of Stella mailing drawings to Charlie and meeting a new friend assures readers that every goodbye does, in truth, lead to a hello. Doerrfeld’s characteristically smudgy, minimalist renderings of homes, getaway spots, and school scenes replete with a racially diverse cast imbue the story with an intimate, timeless feel; Stella is South Asian, and Charlie presents white. If the text is occasionally somewhat saccharine in its optimism, it nonetheless celebrates the ups and downs of life with remarkable heart.

A warming study of friendship, loss, and new friendship. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55423-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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