A big-time missed opportunity.

MY NEW BIG-KID BED

Fears of a new bed can be complicated when a dinosaur’s added to the mix.

The light-skinned child narrator at the heart of this rhyming text is thrilled to pieces by a new big-kid bed with a dino-shaped headboard, received as a birthday present. Eager and excited to use it, at last the child is tucked in nice and snug. But what’s this? The moonlight casts a scary dino shadow on the wall, and suddenly this bed is the last place the tot wants to be. Trying to bunk with Rover, Grandma, and then Mom and Dad doesn’t help—it’s impossible to get to sleep. All ends happily when the kid finally returns to bed to find that the moon has gone away, taking the shadow with it. What precise fears are meant to be allayed here is unclear. While many kids can identify with the nervousness of transferring to a “big-kid bed” (falling out, getting lost in it, the height, etc.), few will be facing the additional phobia of dinosaur-headboard shadows. Why compound fears of bedtime unnecessarily? Additionally, since the moon’s movements erase the problem independently, the protagonist doesn’t even psychologically work through the fear. To accompany the jaunty rhymes, Morley’s upbeat art aims for jolly rather than scary. The endpapers hint that the child’s shadow possibly cavorts with the dinosaur’s, though this remains unclear.

A big-time missed opportunity. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93731-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text.

KINDNESS GROWS

Rhyming verses about kindness using a consistent metaphor of widening cracks versus blooming plants are amplified by cutouts on each page.

The art and layout are spectacular, from the cover through the double-page spreads near the end. Racially diverse toddlers are shown engaging in various moods and behaviors, some of which create unhappiness and some of which lead to friendship and happiness. Every page’s color palette and composition perfectly complement the narrative. The initial verso shows two children in aggressive stances, backgrounded by a dark, partly moonlit sky. Between them is a slender, crooked cutout. The large-type text reads: “It all / starts / with a / crack / that we can hardly see. / It happens when we shout / or if we disagree.” The recto shows two children in sunlight, with one offering a pretty leaf to the other, and the rhyme addresses the good that grows from kindness. In this image, the crooked die cut forms the trunk of a tiny sapling. Until the final double-page spreads, the art follows this clever setup: dark deeds and a crack on the left, and good deeds and a growing tree on the right. Unfortunately, the text is far from the equal of the art: It is banal and preachy, and it does not even scan well without some effort on the part of whomever is reading it. Still, the youngest children will solemnly agree with the do’s and don’ts, and they may decide to memorize a page or two.

Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-229-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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