A playfully profound picture book that does its part in passing on good feelings.

READ REVIEW

BECAUSE AMELIA SMILED

Amelia’s smile, brought on by a rain shower and seen by a neighborhood grandmother, catalyzes a cheery chain of happy consequences.

The ripple of resultant good acts (the grandmother makes her grandson cookies, he teaches his class a song about cookies, one of his students then decides to become a teacher...) travels from New York to Mexico, England, Israel, Paris, Italy and finally back to New York. This streaming story, with its lively artwork and satisfying page turns, allows even young readers to see the interconnectedness of people, the effects of open-hearted deeds and the contagion of happiness. Indefatigable linework (in pencil, water soluble crayon and watercolor) encourages readers to explore every corner of the page, from every angle. Energy zigzags across the illustrations, showing each teeming locale, rendered jaggedly and joyfully. Such dizzying inclusion makes sense in a book about how we’re inextricably bound together in this kooky world, but readers might feel adrift in these busy, sometimes murky pictures. There’s little variation in color saturation and therefore no visual relief or fixed point of focus. Stein manages to expand and reduce the world at once, jumping across wide oceans, countries and continents while connecting the teeny-tiny lives of individuals. When the chain of smiles comes full circle, returning to Amelia and making her grin, readers smile too.

A playfully profound picture book that does its part in passing on good feelings. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4169-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Eggs-quisitely excellent.

THE GOOD EGG

Being a good egg can be eggs-cruciatingly stressful.

This earnest counterpart to John and Oswald’s hilarious The Bad Seed (2017) opens with a direct address from an oval-shaped saint to readers: “Oh, hello! I was just rescuing this cat. Know why? Because I’m a good egg.” Just how good is this egg? “Verrrrrry good.” Without hesitation, the bespectacled egg offers to help others with carrying groceries, painting houses, and changing tires. The good egg even tries to “keep the peace” among the other 11 eggs in its dozen, who forgo their bedtime, eat sugary cereal, and break stuff. Rotten eggs indeed! When the pressure of being good proves too much, the beleaguered egg embarks on a journey of self-care. John embeds a seed of a great idea—finding a balance between personal and social responsibility—within a rip-roaring, touching narrative. Despite his sober narrator, the author’s sense of humor remains intact thanks to some clever (and punny) wordplay. Likewise, Oswald’s digitally composed, bright artwork pops with rib-tickling close-ups and character-building moments. Both text and art complement each other perfectly. Too long alone, the protagonist heads back to its rowdy family, imparting a slice of wisdom to readers: “I’ll be good to my fellow eggs while also being good to myself.” It’s an empowering moment made all the better when this good egg returns to find a rapturous welcome from the others.

Eggs-quisitely excellent. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-286600-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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