Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for.

READ REVIEW

THANKFUL

Spinelli lists many things for which people are thankful.

The pictures tell a pleasing counterpoint to this deceptively simple rhyme. It begins “The waitress is thankful for comfortable shoes. / The local reporter, for interesting news.” The pictures show a little girl playing waitress to her brother, who playacts the reporter. The news gets interesting when the girl trips over the (omnipresent) cat. As the poem continues, the Caucasian children and their parents embody all the different roles and occupations it mentions. The poet is thankful for rhyme and the artist, for light and color, although the girl dancer is not particularly pleased with her brother’s painterly rendition of her visual art. The cozy hotel for the traveler is a tent for the siblings in the backyard, and the grateful chef is their father in the kitchen. Even the pastor (the only character mentioned who is not a family member) is grateful, as he is presented with a posy from the girl, for “God’s loving word.” The line is squiggly and energetic, with pastel color and figures that float over white space or have whole rooms or gardens to roam in. Both children, grateful for morning stories, appear in a double-page spread surrounded by books and stuffed toys as their mother reads to them—an image that begs to be a poster.

Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-310-00088-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious...

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS MOTHER'S DAY BLESSINGS

From the Berenstain Bears series

The Berenstains’ son adds a Mother’s Day entry to the series, continuing the adventures of the Bear family with a religious focus.

Brother, Sister, and Honey want to do something special for Mama for Mother’s Day, and Papa helps them think of just the thing—brunch at the Bear Country Inn after church—and they can invite Grizzly Gran, too. On the ride to church, Mama points out all the ways other families are celebrating their own mothers even though these community helpers are working on the holiday: Officer Marguerite’s children bring her flowers as she directs traffic, and Mrs. Ben’s children are pitching in with farm chores. Indeed, the trip to church is eye-opening for the cubs, who never realized that some of their neighbors even had children. During the church service, Preacher Brown thanks God for the gift of mothers and quotes the Bible: “Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches.” While the illustrations are the same as ever (the smiling bears haven’t aged a bit!), the series seems to have moved away from addressing a variety of families.

This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious services, contrary to its apparent message that being together is all that matters. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-74869-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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With this ahistorical interpretation, this book shows a disregard for both free will and the gradual maturation of talents...

THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU

God’s address to the Hebrew exiles from the Old Testament book of Jeremiah is repurposed in this cheery picture book that emphasizes children’s future careers.

In this decontextualized interpretation of the well-known verse, God narrates the text in a first-person, chatty style (“Hey, YOU!”) that urges children to discover their particular purposes in life, specifically related to career choices (“what I CREATED YOU to do”). The story begins with a fantastical factory in the clouds, controlled by engineers, and the disembodied hand of God pointing at readers. A sort of assembly line with seated, staring children scrolls across the bottoms of the pages, with the boys and girls receiving their professional wardrobes from robotic arms. Above the conveyor belt, smiling children are shown in various jobs wearing relevant career attire, with careful inclusion of children of many ethnicities as well as girls in science, medical, and construction jobs. While the text states that children will “find that one thing / that you love the most,” its overall thrust when combined with the illustrations implies that God chooses a profession for each child at birth and that children should be working toward that profession from an early age. The concluding page urges children to stop reading the book and “go out and find my big plans for YOU.” Readers with unemployed parents or parents toiling in miserable, unhappy jobs will be forgiven for wondering just where in God’s plan their families fit.

With this ahistorical interpretation, this book shows a disregard for both free will and the gradual maturation of talents and personalities. (Picture book/religion. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-310-72410-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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