An even-keeled offering about sibling bonds and a spectacular visual of human connection to the natural world yaws off...

READ REVIEW

THE CHILDREN AND THE WHALE

“In the far, far north,” Cuno and Aia seek out an animal with “a heart as big as a boat.”

After his father tells a story one night, Cuno spends days ignoring his little sister to scan the Arctic waters in hopes of seeing a whale. “The big beast” even occupies his dreams. Captivated by the puzzle of how a whale can “be so large and never be seen,” Cuno sneaks away, taking his father’s kayak into open water to “find the whale on his own.” Annoyed when he discovers tag-along Aia hiding in the hull, Cuno banishes her to the stern. As their journey continues, Cuno’s frustration with Aia grows. Only when the two suddenly become separated does Cuno show he cares. But it takes “a huge, kind heart” of a different type to reunite them and return them home. Readers aware of Indigenous Arctic peoples will notice characters wear parka-style attire, have brown-skinned faces, and search for the whale using an Inuit kayak and paddle. While modernist illustrations echo the stark Arctic setting and cinematic perspectives enhance tensions, the British author/illustrator and his German publisher exclude mention of Indigenous cultural specifics in a tale that has a folkloric feel, leaving readers adrift.

An even-keeled offering about sibling bonds and a spectacular visual of human connection to the natural world yaws off course. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-3-89955-816-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Gestalten

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original...

A KISSING HAND FOR CHESTER RACCOON

From the Kissing Hand series

A sweetened, condensed version of the best-selling picture book, The Kissing Hand.

As in the original, Chester Raccoon is nervous about attending Owl’s night school (raccoons are nocturnal). His mom kisses him on the paw and reminds him, “With a Kissing Hand… / We’ll never be apart.” The text boils the story down to its key elements, causing this version to feel rushed. Gone is the list of fun things Chester will get to do at school. Fans of the original may be disappointed that this board edition uses a different illustrator. Gibson’s work is equally sentimental, but her renderings are stiff and flat in comparison to the watercolors of Harper and Leak. Very young readers will probably not understand that Owl’s tree, filled with opossums, a squirrel, a chipmunk and others, is supposed to be a school.

Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original shouldn’t look to this version as replacement for their page-worn copies. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-933718-77-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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