From the Hattie Harmony series

Practical advice to help empower young worriers.

In this latest from actor Olsen and her husband, musician/writer Arnett, a feline “Worry Detective” once more helps her animal classmates conquer their fears.

It’s opening night of Wildwood Elementary’s school play, and anxieties abound. After receiving a call from Pearl Peppercorn, who needs help dealing with stage fright, Hattie Harmony is on the case with her Worry Detective Tool Belt. As the students prepare for showtime, Hattie provides others—including Seymour Swiggletooth, a member of the crew upset at having spilled paint, and Duncan Delmar, the play’s director, who frets when he can’t turn the stage lights back on—with coping strategies such as journaling, taking breaks, and breathing deeply. Hattie’s classmates—and Hattie herself—benefit from her anxiety-relieving strategies, which readers in similar situations will find valuable. An authors’ note explains various skills to help kids cope with anxiety, perfectionism, and overwhelming thoughts. Valdez’s illustrations are appealing. Hattie is a bespectacled, trench coat–wearing striped cat. The other animals have expressive faces and exaggerated features, like the buck teeth on Seymour, a beaver. Stage lights and flashlights (when the lights go off) bring several scenes to life, and there are plenty of details to take in. The story is straightforward, the writing without flourish, but it nevertheless presents concrete, useful suggestions for confronting anxiety. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Practical advice to help empower young worriers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 13, 2023

ISBN: 9780593351468

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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