Comforting and sincere, like every good hug.

HUGSBY

A tender story of the bond between a girl and her pet monster.

Shelly’s pet monster, Hugsby, is her best friend. Each day Hugsby greets Shelly with a hug after she returns from school. When Shelly’s school announces a Pet Monster Show-and-Tell Day, she becomes determined to teach Hugsby a new trick. Hugsby makes several earnest attempts to learn something new, including juggling and dancing. Shelly remains patient throughout this process, despite Hugsby’s lack of success, and tells him she loves him anyway. On the big day, Shelly is intimidated by her classmates’ pet monsters and their many talents. She starts to introduce Hugsby but is nervous until he envelops her in one of his trademark hugs, a return of the unconditional love and support she’s always given him. This tale is a gentle reminder about accepting others for who they are and of the value of quiet strengths like compassion. Shelly’s anxiety about Hugsby’s absence of talent provides a mirror for children who may feel insecure about their own status. Rendered in a soothing color palette of soft pastels, the illustrations reinforce that warmth and kindness are at the heart of this story. Shelly is cued Asian with pale skin and black hair; her classmates are a diverse group with different skin tones and hair textures. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 62% of actual size.)

Comforting and sincere, like every good hug. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984835-98-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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