Captivating visuals will prompt conversations about the feelings and choices of victim, friend, and community

READ REVIEW

RAIN BOY

Glynn introduces Rain Boy and Sun Kidd—and then presents children’s contrasting reactions to their essences.

The young people are glum or angry when Rain Boy, depicted as a puffy, blue cloud, drips on their outdoor play. Sun, a glowing girl of color, is welcomed happily, however. The tension between the two climaxes during her birthday, when Rain Boy’s presence floods the basement, threatening the cake and presents. The guests encircle the cloud, crying: “Rain, Rain, go away!” Sun escapes to her room. Glynn’s watercolor, cut-paper, pastel, and colored-pencil caricatures and tableaux channel both a delightfully childlike aesthetic and emotionally charged expressionism. Sun’s bed is draped in golden curtains in the upper corner of a space defined by the strong diagonals of a wrought-iron balcony and foreshortened ladder. A black, starry sky frames the yellow/orange interior, which is dominated by a Calder-esque mobile. After Rain Boy storms off, the downpour continues until the children start appreciating both one another and puddles. This coaxes the celestial protagonists outside, where a rainbow appears: “So next time you’re feeling down and your world is dark and gray…just look up.” As convenient and lovely as this spread is, the message does not quite apply to Rain Boy, nor is it completely transferable to an ostracized reader, thus sapping the book of some of its logic and power.

Captivating visuals will prompt conversations about the feelings and choices of victim, friend, and community .(Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7280-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book.

SCOOPER AND DUMPER

Friends don’t let friends expire in snowdrifts.

Convoluted storytelling and confusing art turn a cute premise into a mishmash of a book. Scooper’s a front loader that works in the town salt yard, replenishing the snowplows that arrive. Dumper’s her best friend, more than happy to plow and salt the roads himself. When the big city calls in Dumper to help with a snow squall, he brushes off Scooper’s concerns. Yet slippery roads and a seven-vehicle pileup launch poor Dumper onto his side in a snowbank. Can Scooper overcome fears that she’s too slow and save the day? Following a plot as succinct as this should be a breeze, but the rhyming text obfuscates more than it clarifies. Lines such as, “Dumper’s here— / let’s rock ’n’ roll! / Big city’s callin’ for / some small-town soul” can prove impenetrable. The art of the book matches this confusion, with light-blue Dumper often hard to pick out among other, similarly colored vehicles, particularly in the snowstorm. Speech bubbles, as when the city calls for Scooper’s and Dumper’s help, lead to a great deal of visual confusion. Scooper is also featured sporting long eyelashes and a bow, lest anyone mistake the dithering, frightened truck as anything but female. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16.8% of actual size.)

Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9268-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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