THE LEGEND OF NINJA COWBOY BEAR

Once there were three best friends: a ninja, a cowboy and a bear, and they did everything together. They are all individuals, however, and one day ninja and bear quarrel. When they ask cowboy who is better, cowboy can’t decide…so he devises a contest. Who can make the bigger pile of rocks? “Although the ninja tried his best, in the end his pile was much smaller than the bear’s. So the bear boasted that he was unbeatable.” That causes the cowboy to disagree, and another contest ensues. When cowboy wins that one and boasts, ninja disagrees. After the third contest, everyone is quarrelling again—until they individually come to the conclusion that they each have their strengths. Leung’s digital illustrations are a perfect blend of Saturday-morning cartoon and manga, and much of the humor is contained within their play off the deadpan text. In all it’s a wonderfully integrated package about friendship, competition and the celebration of difference. The game at the back (a version of rock, paper, scissors substituting the characters) will have children hopping up for their own competitions. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-55453-486-9

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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FLETCHER AND THE FALLING LEAVES

Fletcher is a young fox concerned about his favorite tree. “I think my tree is sick,” he tells his mother, in reference to its brown leaves. His mother tells him not worry, that it’s only autumn. Comforted, Fletcher pats his tree and reassures it. But as leaves begin to fall, Fletcher’s worry increases, and he vows to collect all of the leaves and reaffix them. Despite his best efforts—he even tries to keep other animals from removing the leaves—Fletcher awakes one morning to find that the tree is bare, save one leaf that he brings home for safekeeping. When Fletcher next returns to visit the tree, he is met with a glorious sight: Glittering icicles adorn it. Awed, Fletcher asks if the tree is all right, and a breeze softly shakes its branches, causing them to nod and emit soft laughter. Softly glowing illustrations, evocative and full of depth, are perfectly matched with the warm and lyrical text. A poetic tribute to winter and fall, Fletcher’s story is sure to resonate with young readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-113401-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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