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I BELIEVE IN YOU

From the Hazy Dell Love & Nurture Books series

Lovely, sweet, and warmly offbeat.

Playful cryptids model unconditional love and acceptance for the board-book set.

Gorgeous colors, tones, and textures combine with an off-kilter cast and conceit to lend charm to what could easily feel maudlin. Rhymed text provides a vehicle for caregivers to deliver a warm and reassuring message of unconditional love to their charges. The verse is delivered in a style that borders on Hallmark-lite, but despite this—or perhaps because of it—author Barks and illustrator Bletsis wring ironic charm by pairing the unabashed sentiment with playful paranormal hijinks. The result feels improbably special, offering an opportunity to bask in the bond between caregiver and child. Hearing the titular phrase, “I believe in you,” repeated between parent and child sea serpents as they swim around Loch Ness is endearing and clever. The message doesn’t feel trite. Golden skies, rolling hills, and blue waters reflecting the bright yellow hues of the sun lend an air of magic to Nessie’s home. The text is not Shakespeare, but the message is clear: “From the bright golden dawn // to your cute bedtime yawn, / I believe in you. // Some people may doubt, / but we’ll tune them out. // And I’ll believe in you. // All the friends that you make, / will know you’re not fake. // They’ll believe in you.” The accompanying illustrations of wee Nessie playing joyfully with Bigfoot, a ghost, an ET, and a winged unicorn are clinchers.

Lovely, sweet, and warmly offbeat. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-948931-17-5

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Hazy Dell Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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I AM A BIG BROTHER

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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HAPPY IN OUR SKIN

The combination of lovingly humorous and detailed mixed-media illustrations and infectious rhymes will cause little ones and...

More than skin deep, this rhyming paean to diversity offers readers an array of families of all colors and orientations, living and loving one another in a vibrant city setting.

A giggling baby is tummy-tickled by her white and black mothers (or white mother and black father—impressively, the illustration leaves room for interpretation) in New York’s Central Park in its summertime glory. "This is how we all begin: / small and happy in our skin." This celebration of skin not only extols the beauty and value of various skin colors, but also teaches the importance of skin as an essential body part: “It keeps the outsides out / and your insides in.” Park, public-pool, and block-party scenes allow readers to luxuriate in a teeming city where children of all colors, abilities, and religions enjoy their families and neighbors. The author and illustrator do not simply take a rote, tokenistic approach to answering the cry for diverse books; the words and pictures depict a much-needed, realistic representation of the statement “it takes a village to raise a child” when a child skins her knee and many rush to her aid and comfort. Though her palette of browns is a little limited, Tobia creates sheer joy with her depictions of everything from unibrows, dimples, and birthmarks to callouts to recognizable literary characters.

The combination of lovingly humorous and detailed mixed-media illustrations and infectious rhymes will cause little ones and their families to pore over this book again and again. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7002-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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