A salutary reminder that however devastating a loss may be, new connections are worth the risk.

READ REVIEW

THE GIRL WITH THE PARROT ON HER HEAD

“Once there was a girl with a parrot on her head.”

That’s Isabel, and her friend Simon happens to be “very good with newts.” Screen prints emulate a child’s simple, scribbly style, depicting two brown-skinned children who clearly have much in common. “But one day Simon went away in a truck, and he never came back.” The text continues, “For a while Isabel hated everything.” She even alienates her parrot, until the day she decides she “likes being on her own.” She’s got a parrot on her head—who needs friends? She boxes up all the toys she and Simon used to play with (including a teepee), but both she and the parrot are a little concerned that “one of the wolves might be too big.” A big box they find on the sidewalk should do the trick, but “something was already inside”: a brown-skinned boy named Chester, who helps Isabel convince the too-big wolf to leave the city for the wilderness and then convinces Isabel that “the space station really needed two astronauts.” Hirst’s debut is deliciously elliptical and totally child-centered—Isabel may have a parrot, but she does not appear to have any parents. Her declarative text gets inside the head of her imaginative protagonist, respecting her turbulent feelings of loss and her trepidation at making a new friend.

A salutary reminder that however devastating a loss may be, new connections are worth the risk. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7829-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations.

I BELIEVE I CAN

Diversity is the face of this picture book designed to inspire confidence in children.

Fans of Byers and Bobo’s I Am Enough (2018) will enjoy this book that comes with a universal message of self-acceptance. A line of children practices ballet at the barre; refreshingly, two of the four are visibly (and adorably) pudgy. Another group tends a couple of raised beds; one of them wears hijab. Two more children coax a trepidatious friend down a steep slide. Further images, of children pretending to be pirates, dragons, mimes, playing superhero and soccer, and cooking, are equally endearing, but unfortunately they don’t add enough heft to set the book apart from other empowerment books for children. Though the illustrations shine, the text remains pedagogic and bland. Clichés abound: “When I believe in myself, there’s simply nothing I can’t do”; “Sometimes I am right, and sometimes I am wrong. / But even when I make mistakes, I learn from them to make me strong.” The inclusion of children with varying abilities, religions, genders, body types, and racial presentations creates an inviting tone that makes the book palatable. It’s hard to argue with the titular sentiment, but this is not the only book of its ilk on the shelf.

Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266713-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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