With its gentle morals of acceptance, not judging by appearances, and being open to outcomes different than expectations,...

ONCE UPON A GOAT

A picture-book fable featuring a king, a queen, a fairy godmother, and…a goat?

In this sweet and playful fable, a royal couple wishes hopefully for a child. While they claim “we’re not particular,” they also present their fairy godmother with a wish list that their child have “glowing skin, bright eyes, and hair like ocean waves” and preferably be a boy, “but any kid will do.” She gets to work, and on the next full moon the king and queen receive the answer to their wishes—but it’s a goat and not the perfect human boy they were expecting. Disappointment turns to despair before despair turns to delight as this unusual trio becomes a loving and happy family. When they are ultimately given the opportunity to correct the “misunderstanding” and swap their beloved goat for a human child, the royal parents arrive at a creative solution. The smoothly paced illustrations are nicely varied among vignettes, full pages, and double-page spreads. The artwork is rich with traditional fairy-tale motifs, and the austere lines of the palace contrast amusingly with the chaos brought by the goat child. While it has a small cast of human and humanoid characters, all of them present white.

With its gentle morals of acceptance, not judging by appearances, and being open to outcomes different than expectations, this is a lovely family read-aloud. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7374-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history.

WOODLAND DREAMS

A sonorous, soporific invitation to join woodland creatures in bedding down for the night.

As in her Moon Babies, illustrated by Amy Hevron (2019), Jameson displays a rare gift for harmonious language and rhyme. She leads off with a bear: “Come home, Big Paws. / Berry picker / Honey trickster / Shadows deepen in the glen. / Lumber back inside your den.” Continuing in the same pattern, she urges a moose (“Velvet Nose”), a deer (“Tiny Hooves”), and a succession of ever smaller creatures to find their nooks and nests as twilight deepens in Boutavant’s woodsy, autumnal scenes and snow begins to drift down. Through each of those scenes quietly walks an alert White child (accompanied by an unusually self-controlled pooch), peering through branches or over rocks at the animals in the foregrounds and sketching them in a notebook. The observer’s turn comes round at last, as a bearded parent beckons: “This way, Small Boots. / Brave trailblazer / Bright stargazer / Cabin’s toasty. Blanket’s soft. / Snuggle deep in sleeping loft.” The animals go unnamed, leaving it to younger listeners to identify each one from the pictures…if they can do so before the verses’ murmurous tempo closes their eyes.

Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7063-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Too many bugs, figuratively.

LUCY'S LIGHT

Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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