A warm tale of catharsis and acceptance.

READ REVIEW

ELLA & MONKEY AT SEA

Can a girl and her toy monkey adjust to a move across the sea?

After a tearful goodbye hug from Oma, Ella and her stuffed monkey, Monkey, embark on a journey across the ocean with Ella’s mother to their new home in New York. Colorful watercolors portray the pigtailed, round-cheeked heroine and her beloved toy as they begin to navigate the boat, but it soon becomes clear that Monkey is less than pleased. He “doesn’t want to get on a ship, or sail off to sea, or move away forever.” He is unhappy with their unfamiliar bunk beds and the ship’s playroom. He misses Oma and hates fish. Meanwhile, a storm is brewing at sea. The rocking ship makes everyone seasick, and only Ella and Monkey seem to be walking around, so the two decide to try to scribble the storm away with crayons. After an expressive drawing session, Ella begins to sketch the sun and remembers that she has a hello hug from Papa to anticipate when the ship docks. Based on the author’s childhood experiences when her own family emigrated from the Netherlands, this story of a child working through her frustrations and adjusting to change with help from a toy is warm and comforting. Ella and her family are white; there are families of color onboard the ship with them.

A warm tale of catharsis and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9233-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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