A mixed message shopped in a queasy jacket.



Hemingway’s story of friendship against the odds is sweet, but it has hitched its wagon to a very challenging vehicle.

Mac is an apple, a polished piece of perfection, but he's an easygoing, humble bit of applehood. He enjoys art classes and a slow drift down the neighborhood stream. He likes a spring rain and is napping in the drizzle one day when a worm by the name of Will seeks shelter from the storm in Mac’s head (Mac is pretty much all head). They become fast friends, with Will living in a hole he drilled in Mac’s head. This just seems weird, not to mention painful. When the other apples in the neighborhood start giving Mac grief—“And no one in the orchard would play with them. NOT EVEN the crab apples. Crab apples can be so mean”—calling him a bad apple, readers will feel protective toward the little red guy. And it doesn’t hurt, sympathy-wise, that the characters and settings are lusciously drawn. But still, there's that that hole in the head. Mac also has an image problem: “Mac knew he’d rather be a Bad Apple with Will than a sad apple without him,” which compromises the whole notion of the beauty of friendship. He’s not a bad apple, he’s a good apple, uncontaminated by the pesticide of a culture that tells us only the glossily unblemished are worth a hoot.

A mixed message shopped in a queasy jacket. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25191-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.


From the Big Bright Feelings series

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...


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

Did you like this book?