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A simply told, graphically arresting tale.

Young Billy Hightower lives “atop the world’s tallest building.” Intent on meeting the girl he spots on a nearby high-rise’s roof, he tries several stratagems before achieving his goal.

He shouts an introduction, but the wind carries his words off. Ditto for his notes, dispatched via paper airplane and kite—each lofted beyond the girl’s reach. Most daringly, Billy launches himself into the wind, clutching the corners of a billowing red blanket. No luck—the wind not only sweeps him away, but the girl’s red hat as well. Deposited on the ground, Billy eyes towering buildings: Portis’ dizzying perspective conveys their height. Determinedly trudging against the lashing wind, Billy spies the girl’s red hat snagged on shrubbery outside a building called “Crimson Tower.” Rushing up, knocking “at the first door on the top floor” Billy finally introduces himself to the girl (who’s nameless and nonspeaking throughout). A final spread depicts the pair up on the roof, arms extending shyly along the parapet, below the text’s last words: “The Beginning….” Portis’ crisp compositions pair crayonlike black lines against white, sky blue, red, and gray. The swirling wind appears as raised, shiny lines, sweeping and curling across the cover and many interior spreads. Once Billy’s up on the roof with his new friend, though, the wind abates.

A simply told, graphically arresting tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3411-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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From the Big Bright Feelings series

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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