Good for sharing one on one, this is a pleasant bedtime story for those who don’t already have enough.

GOOD NIGHT, FOREST

Another riff on Goodnight Moon, this one is set in a forest.

The opening rhyme sets the scene. “Good morning, forest. / Rise and shine! / Good morning, maple, / Oak and pine.” The text welcomes, in turn, an assemblage of forest flora, fauna, and landscape elements to a new day: deer, bird, stream, flowers, cricket, porcupine, ferns, turtle, and skunk. The creatures play until the end of day, when a hush falls over the forest and it’s time to sleep. The illustrations are eye-catching, with darkly saturated colors applied in painterly strokes that extend off of the page. The images appear as if shellacked or polished on the glossy paper, and they gently exaggerate the features of the animals; all have wide, pop eyes (even the cricket), and the porcupine’s quills and beaver’s buck teeth are humorously hyperbolic. The ending, which features an adult and child inside a lit tent reading a book, is a nice touch. “Time to sleep! / All creatures do. / Good night, forest. / Good night, you.” However, although all the ingredients work well enough together, there is little about the book that helps it to rise above the rest and should be considered only in situations where there is an ache for another bedtime book.

Good for sharing one on one, this is a pleasant bedtime story for those who don’t already have enough. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58536-388-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors.

THE LEAF THIEF

A confused squirrel overreacts to the falling autumn leaves.

Relaxing on a tree branch, Squirrel admires the red, gold, and orange leaves. Suddenly Squirrel screams, “One of my leaves is…MISSING!” Searching for the leaf, Squirrel tells Bird, “Someone stole my leaf!” Spying Mouse sailing in a leaf boat, Squirrel asks if Mouse stole the leaf. Mouse calmly replies in the negative. Bird reminds Squirrel it’s “perfectly normal to lose a leaf or two at this time of year.” Next morning Squirrel panics again, shrieking, “MORE LEAVES HAVE BEEN STOLEN!” Noticing Woodpecker arranging colorful leaves, Squirrel queries, “Are those my leaves?” Woodpecker tells Squirrel, “No.” Again, Bird assures Squirrel that no one’s taking the leaves and that the same thing happened last year, then encourages Squirrel to relax. Too wired to relax despite some yoga and a bath, the next day Squirrel cries “DISASTER” at the sight of bare branches. Frantic now, Squirrel becomes suspicious upon discovering Bird decorating with multicolored leaves. Is Bird the culprit? In response, Bird shows Squirrel the real Leaf Thief: the wind. Squirrel’s wildly dramatic, misguided, and hyperpossessive reaction to a routine seasonal event becomes a rib-tickling farce through clever use of varying type sizes and weights emphasizing his absurd verbal pronouncements as well as exaggerated, comic facial expressions and body language. Bold colors, arresting perspectives, and intense close-ups enhance Squirrel’s histrionics. Endnotes explain the science behind the phenomenon.

A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-3520-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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