A miss.

READ REVIEW

THERE'S A DRAGON IN MY CLOSET

Is there or isn’t there a dragon in the closet?

In his debut as a picture-book illustrator, fine artist Palmer depicts a young black boy with a crown of dreadlocks atop his head and a big imagination. He’s convinced that a dragon in his closet is responsible for various happenings (leaving a dollar bill under his pillow when he loses a tooth, tidying his room while he’s out) and also for the mischief he’s blamed for (tracking mud in the house, breaking a flower pot, eating all the cookies in the jar). He tells his parents about the dragon at the beginning of the book, but after the cookie incident, his exasperated mother leads him to his closet—where they find a dragon-shaped pile of stuff. The boy steadfastly holds onto his story of a real dragon, deciding the heap of things is just a clever ruse. Ultimately, however, the story is confusing: is the child using this story to get away with mischief? Is he truly innocent of any mischief-making and ignorant of his parents’ tooth fairy and tidying duties? More problematic is Taylor’s forced, uneven attempt at rhyming verse, which undermines the book’s success as a whole despite its painterly illustrations and the appeal of a story about a contemporary black family.

A miss. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-57284-227-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bolden/Agate

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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 AND HIS EGG

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 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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Gently encourages empathy, compassion, and consideration.

TOMORROW I'LL BE KIND

How will you behave tomorrow?

Utilizing the same format and concept of her popular Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave (2018), Hische presents young listeners with short, studied rhymes that describe various positive attributes (being helpful, patient, gentle, honest, generous, graceful, and kind). Also included are kid-friendly ways to incorporate these behaviors into daily life, with the underlying goal of making the world a better place. The illustrations, which feature friends in the forms of a mouse, cat, and rabbit, are colorful and appealing, and they extend the text by showing some additional ways of realizing the characteristics mentioned. Overall, the intentions are aboveboard, but this is a volume intended to teach about positive values and behavior, and as such, it comes across as somewhat treacly and proselytizing. The key words, incorporated into the illustrations in a graphic manner, are sometimes a bit difficult to read, and occasionally, select vocabulary and phrases (“to myself I will be true”; “my heart, my guiding light”) seem better suited for an older readership. Still, as an introduction to personality characteristics, beneficial behaviors, and social-emotional skills, this is a solid choice, and fans of the previous volume are likely to embrace this one as well. “I’ll dream of all the good that comes / when we all just do our best,” the text explains—a sentiment that’s hard to rebut.

Gently encourages empathy, compassion, and consideration. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-8704-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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