Could have been a slick pastiche…given a spell check run and better art and writing.

HAROLD'S TREASURE HUNT

Harold takes his purple crayon on a newly minted adventure, meeting pirates and lots of sea life.

Designed to mimic the look and feel of Johnson’s original series, this anonymously composed and illustrated spinoff (title-page credit notwithstanding) follows the pajama-clad lad on a nighttime outing onto a pirate ship, off a plank at sword point, into and out of the ocean, and finally through a cave where, once he draws a window “that the sun shined through big and bright,” he finds “the best treasure ever” in his own bedroom toy box. Along the way he encounters a mermaid (discreetly clad in a camisole) but passes by because he doesn’t want to “interupt” [sic] her and an octopus who is no help with directions because “they didn’t see eye to eye,” whatever that means. In the purple-dominated illustrations the pirate and the mermaid are just outlines, and so take on the color of the background, but Harold’s exposed hands and round head have been darkened just enough to create a whiff of racial ambiguity. This has absolutely none of the magic of the 1955 classic, and it’s hard not to wonder what Johnson might make of it; the Ruth Krauss Foundation holds the copyright, but the identities of the actual author and illustrator are carefully concealed.

Could have been a slick pastiche…given a spell check run and better art and writing. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-265531-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A sweet, poetic ode to autumn.

IF YOU FIND A LEAF

A rhyming celebration of imagination.

A child with brown skin offers gentle, artful ideas about what to do with autumn leaves. The picture book's idyllic setting seems Northeastern in nature, with deciduous trees shedding leaves, which the child scoops up. Could a leaf from a tree become a hat, a Halloween mask, a hammock, or something else entirely? "It could be a horn that blows, announcing that we're here. // A leafy parade to celebrate our favorite time of year." Rhyme rules the text but isn't forced in the least. Collaged leaves against painted illustrations encourage play and imagination. A nod to winter and spring make this a year-round read. Endpapers with realistic labeled images of leaves provide an injection of information in this otherwise dreamy musing. The backmatter includes instructions on collaging—a meaningful and fun activity that builds upon the text. While there's nothing groundbreaking here, there is opportunity for both learning and whimsy. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet, poetic ode to autumn. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30659-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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