It would be a grave mistake not to pick up this picture book.

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THE BOOK OF MISTAKES

A striking debut picture book celebrates the creative process.

Spread by spread, text identifies “mistakes” in art that give way to inspired new creations. “Even the ink smudges scattered across the sky / look as if they could be leaves— / like they’d always wanted to be lifted up / and carried,” reads text representative of the lyrically ruminative language, and it’s juxtaposed with art depicting just such a scene as a little black child looks up at the smudgy leaves. Twists and turns of the changing compositions will provoke delight in readers examining the pages to see how the white girl with the glasses (which started off as eyes that looked too big) changes, and then how she will fit into the increasingly complex compositions. The evolving black ink, colored pencil, and watercolor pictures seem at once spontaneous and refined against the white space of the page. Careful looking will be rewarded with surprising, often funny details in the art, which invites poring over and will slow down the reading of the spare text. The main character, the bespectacled white girl, is eventually joined by a diverse group of other children who play in and around a festive, fantastic-looking tree, all rendered in a style and palette somewhat reminiscent of Erin E. Stead’s work but distinctive in its own right.

It would be a grave mistake not to pick up this picture book. (Picture book. 4-12)

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2792-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite.

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AFTER THE FALL (HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN)

Humpty Dumpty, classically portrayed as an egg, recounts what happened after he fell off the wall in Santat’s latest.

An avid ornithophile, Humpty had loved being atop a high wall to be close to the birds, but after his fall and reassembly by the king’s men, high places—even his lofted bed—become intolerable. As he puts it, “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Although fear bars Humpty from many of his passions, it is the birds he misses the most, and he painstakingly builds (after several papercut-punctuated attempts) a beautiful paper plane to fly among them. But when the plane lands on the very wall Humpty has so doggedly been avoiding, he faces the choice of continuing to follow his fear or to break free of it, which he does, going from cracked egg to powerful flight in a sequence of stunning spreads. Santat applies his considerable talent for intertwining visual and textual, whimsy and gravity to his consideration of trauma and the oft-overlooked importance of self-determined recovery. While this newest addition to Santat’s successes will inevitably (and deservedly) be lauded, younger readers may not notice the de-emphasis of an equally important part of recovery: that it is not compulsory—it is OK not to be OK.

A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-682-6

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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