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A gentle feline tale aimed at a Christian audience.

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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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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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From the Little Blue Truck series

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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