Invaluable in this moment and beyond.

LOOKING FOR SMILE

A tenderhearted, life-affirming exploration of the depressive cycle through simple language and a rich visual vocabulary.

Bear and Smile seem inseparable. They do everything together: wake, munch, roam floral fields and wooded wilderness, plunge into waterfalls, and slurp golden gobs of honey. Suffused with a solar glow, vibrant illustrations undergirded by the inimitable texture of Arches paper initially exude the most wonderful warmth. All is clearly well—but, as the world has a habit of reminding us, great difficulties sometimes arrive abruptly. One morning—without warning, without reason—Bear finds himself alone. Smile is nowhere to be found. Amid Bear’s gloomy landscape, a few objects retain their true colors, but the rest of the world is subsumed by a deep blue malaise. Rabbit notices something is amiss and suggests Bear seek Smile in his favorite places; Bear searches everywhere, to no avail. Bear slurps a pawful of honey as a last resort; still, Smile doesn’t return. As hope fades, Bird swoops in and asks what’s wrong. Bear shares his sorrow, and Bird sits alongside him. They share the comfortable silence of confidants—until Bird begins to sing, softly at first, then louder as Bear hums in harmony. As they fill the forest with song, something stirs deep within Bear. As it rises, the world slowly shifts. Color imbues the page. Life irrupts anew. At long last, Smile appears on Bear’s face. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 57% of actual size.)

Invaluable in this moment and beyond. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6619-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.

FLY GUY PRESENTS: SHARKS

From the Fly Guy series

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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