Simply sweet.

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ODD ONE OUT

Clara finds herself left out when her best friend, Annabelle, gets close to Juliette, the new girl.

Clara herself tells the story. Her life used to be perfect, mostly because of her “wonderful, brilliant, very best friend,” Annabelle. They were inseparable. Their parents even said that they were “soul sisters.” But everything changes when the new girl, Juliette, walks into their classroom. Clara isn’t worried at first, but when Annabelle and Juliette walk to recess hand in hand, Clara’s knees go weak. “There can’t be THREE soul sisters!” (It’s clearly “mathematically impossible.”) Clara feels as if she has begun “to shrink…and shrivel…until [she becomes] very, very, very small.” She comes up with three diabolical plans to get rid of Juliette (one consists of dumping her insect collection on Juliette) but just sits on the bench in the hallway and cries. When Annabelle’s kite gets stuck in a tree, Clara climbs it without even thinking. A breaking branch leads to a hard fall and then to a visit to the doctor. Later, Annabelle brings Clara a big box of chocolate-covered cherries—her favorite. Juliette arrives shortly after with a gift as well. Clara realizes that there can be three soul sisters. Chaperon captures the openness and fragility of childhood with a valuable lesson. Iris’ childlike illustrations add charm and age-appropriate emotion. Her cast of cartoon animal characters with human clothes and hairstyles recalls Marc Brown’s Arthur without feeling imitative.

Simply sweet. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-2-7338-5066-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Auzou Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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