A gentle feline tale aimed at a Christian audience.

BELLA GETS RESCUED

A timid cat finds a forever home and learns what it means to be loved in this debut picture book.

In her work, Wakeman, who holds a master of divinity degree in Christian education, crafts the first-person tale of Bella, a homeless little cat, as a religious parable for young readers. Bella begins her narrative by introducing herself as a kitty who was once lonely and frightened, trying her best to survive rough weather and avoid danger. “I didn’t know I was lost…until I was found,” Bella says. Through clear and simple language, Wakeman brings Bella’s story to life, making it easy for readers to empathize with the shy cat as she describes her rescue from a precarious perch in a tree and, after a stay with a kind veterinarian, her slow adjustment to life in her new home. Despite kind treatment, Bella at first hides under the furniture, continuing to be terrified of every loud noise and fearful of petting. She runs away from her patient and gentle caretakers—until she finally understands, with purring acceptance, that she will always be loved. Knighton matches the tone of the soothing text with appealing watercolor illustrations featuring soft lines, rounded shapes, muted hues, and a diverse human cast. The placement of the images, some full page, some floating in circles against expansive white space, further complements the mood—as does Bella’s expressively fluffy tail. Bella ends her narrative with an upbeat afterword that addresses readers directly, telling them that they can be “found,” too, that they aren’t alone even in dark times. This reassurance closes with a biblical quote to underscore the message of faith within Wakeman’s Christian tale: “God’s perfect love takes away fear” (1 John 4:18). In her note to adults following the story, the author explains her motivation for writing the child-friendly parable: parents, she suggests, could use its “deeper meaning” to help their kids come “to know God as their Heavenly Father.”

A gentle feline tale aimed at a Christian audience. 

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62020-549-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Ambassador International

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2017

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The greeting-card art and jokey rhymes work for the baby-shower market but not for the youngest readers.

I LOVE YOU LIKE NO OTTER

Animal parents declare their love for their offspring through rhymed puns and sentimental art.

The title sets the scene for what’s to come: The owl asks the owlet as they fly together, “WHOO loves you?”; the kangaroo and joey make each other “very HOPPY”; and the lioness and cub are a “PURRRFECT pair.” Most of the puns are both unimaginative and groanworthy, and they are likely to go over the heads of toddlers, who are not know for their wordplay abilities. The text is set in abcb quatrains split over two double-page spreads. On each spread, one couplet appears on the verso within a lightly decorated border on pastel pages. On the recto, a full-bleed portrait of the animal and baby appears in softly colored and cozy images. Hearts are prominent on every page, floating between the parent and baby as if it is necessary to show the love between each pair. Although these critters are depicted in mistily conceived natural habitats and are unclothed, they are human stand-ins through and through.

The greeting-card art and jokey rhymes work for the baby-shower market but not for the youngest readers. (Board book. 6 mos-2)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1374-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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An unabashed love letter from mother.

I LOVE YOU, LITTLE POOKIE

From the Little Pookie series

A sweet celebration of the bond between a mother and her Pookie.

The eighth installment in this always charming series eschews the episodic drama and silliness of earlier outing such as Spooky Pookie (2015) in favor of a mom’s-eye-view celebration of her child and the time they spend together. There is, of course, nothing wrong with drama and silliness. But while the lack of conflict and plot in favor of unapologetic sentiment makes this book a quick read, that doesn’t make it any less endearing. The rhymed verse captures a mother’s wonder as she observes the many facets of her child’s personality: “Ah, Pookie. My little one. My funny one. My child. // Sometimes you are quiet. Sometimes you are wild.” On the simple joys of shared moments, she notes, “I love to go walking with you by my side. / I love when we sing when we go for a ride. // And I love just to watch as you think and you play. / The way that you are is a wonderful way.” Paired with author/illustrator Boynton’s irresistible renderings of a porcine mommy and her playful, snuggly little piglet, the result is impossible to fault. Whether quietly reading, running in a tiger suit, singing with mom in the car, ears flapping in the breeze, or enjoying the safety of mom’s embrace, Pookie’s appeal continues unabated.

An unabashed love letter from mother. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3723-4

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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