A story about teasing and pressure, but a fairly tranquil one—with excellent chapeaus.

OLD HAT

Bowing to peer hat pressure never works.

Harbet—a bipedal, warmly off-white dog, mildly and endearingly scruffy—has a favorite hat. It has pompoms, earflaps, and patterns; his nana knitted it when Harbet was a puppy, and it keeps him toasty warm. Unfortunately, the local trendsetters—a dinosaur, a storklike bird, and something vaguely ursine—have different standards and no compunction about mocking. They all sport Carmen Miranda–type fruit hats and declare his old hat “OLD HAT!” (the tale’s refrain), beginning a cycle in which Harbet acquires a new hat like theirs but always after it’s become passé. His fruit hat is so yesterday, and—poor Harbet!—the fruit rots and attracts flies. He obtains a traffic-cone hat with a mounted searchlight, like theirs, but now they have hats that look like little ships. Harbet consults Top Hat magazine; he tries a saucepan on his head, a pink work boot, and an undersea diving helmet. Still, “OLD HAT!” Only the surprising reveal of his bare head changes the power dynamic. Gravett’s pencil, watercolor, and acrylic ink illustrations are cheerful, delicate, and funny. While the mockery is set in huge, all-caps type and the mockers do point, their facial expressions don’t jeer, and the art’s gentle lines and heartening colors keep the vibe lighter than it might have been.

A story about teasing and pressure, but a fairly tranquil one—with excellent chapeaus. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0917-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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WITH ALL MY HEART

A caregiving bear shares with its cub how love has defined their relationship from the first moment and through the years as the cub has grown.

With rhymes and a steady rhythm that are less singsong-y than similar books, Stansbie seems to have hit a sweet spot for this offering on the I-love-you-always shelf. Readers follow the adult and child as they share special moments together—a sunset, a splash in a pond, climbing a tree, a snuggle—and the adult tells the child that the love it feels has only grown. Stansbie also takes care not to put promises in the adult bear’s mouth that can’t be delivered, acknowledging that physical proximity is not always possible: “Wherever you are, / even when we’re apart… // I’ll love you forever / with all of my heart.” The large trim size helps the sweet illustrations shine; their emphasis is on the close relationship between parent and child. Shaped peekaboo windows offer glimpses of preceding and succeeding pages, images and text carefully placed to work whatever the context. While the die cuts on the interior pages will not hold up to rough handling, they do add whimsy and delight to the book as a whole: “And now that you’re bigger, / you make my heart sing. / My / beautiful / wonderful / magical / thing.” Those last three adjectives are positioned in leaf-shaped cutouts, the turn of the page revealing the roly-poly cub in a pile of leaves, three formed by the die-cuts. Opposite, three vignettes show the cub appreciating the “beautiful,” the “wonderful,” and the “magical.”

Sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-910-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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