Lambelet’s luscious, cinematic artwork will transport readers.

THE TRAVELER'S GIFT

A STORY OF LOSS AND HOPE

A boy finds joy, loss, healing, and love in the power of storytelling.

In cap and suspenders, Liam waves from a dock as his father sets sail across the opening endpages. Reunited, the two embrace before the burly sailor spins tales of his adventures in front of a crackling fire, as mermaids, treasures, and shark-infested waters swirl to life. But when his father sets out again and doesn’t return, Liam’s world turns gray and stories lose their pull, until an old traveler arrives with a magic beard who is able to weave words into pictures. Together, the two journey across the world, and Liam learns to really look and listen, and when the time comes for him to tell a story, he finds his father in stories told, in adventures taken, and in the weaving of words and sharing of stories. Fanciful illustrations are meticulously drawn, and the artist uses geometric shapes stylized to appear sculpted, reminiscent of a stop-motion animated picture. The cool, bright color palette is used to great effect as all turns gray to depict grief and loss, with color returning in the traveler’s stories and in their journey together. Skilled compositional designs showcase the flowing nature of the tales at sea and the traveler’s beard’s ability to hold the memory of adventure and become a metaphor for journey and growth. Liam and his father present white; the traveler has brown skin; Liam’s 19th-century seaside town is largely white but has a few residents of color.

Lambelet’s luscious, cinematic artwork will transport readers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62414-765-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available.

THE LITTLE GHOST WHO WAS A QUILT

A ghost learns to appreciate his differences.

The little ghost protagonist of this title is unusual. He’s a quilt, not a lightweight sheet like his parents and friends. He dislikes being different despite his mom’s reassurance that his ancestors also had unconventional appearances. Halloween makes the little ghost happy, though. He decides to watch trick-or-treaters by draping over a porch chair—but lands on a porch rail instead. A mom accompanying her daughter picks him up, wraps him around her chilly daughter, and brings him home with them! The family likes his looks and comforting warmth, and the little ghost immediately feels better about himself. As soon as he’s able to, he flies out through the chimney and muses happily that this adventure happened only due to his being a quilt. This odd but gently told story conveys the importance of self-respect and acceptance of one’s uniqueness. The delivery of this positive message has something of a heavy-handed feel and is rushed besides. It also isn’t entirely logical: The protagonist could have been a different type of covering; a blanket, for instance, might have enjoyed an identical experience. The soft, pleasing illustrations’ palette of tans, grays, white, black, some touches of color, and, occasionally, white text against black backgrounds suggest isolation, such as the ghost feels about himself. Most humans, including the trick-or-treating mom and daughter, have beige skin. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 66.2% of actual size.)

Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6447-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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