It’s hard to judge intent, but even if this might provide lighthearted reassurance for young squinters, it’s going to leave...

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I CAN SEE JUST FINE

Repeatedly uttering the titular protest, a child is dragged off to “see” the eye doctor in this neatly drawn, too neatly resolved take on a common experience.

Paige’s inability to make out what’s on the class chalkboard is just one of a set of symptoms that trigger a day off from school, an eye exam, a chance to try on a zillion pairs of eyeglass frames and, after a fitting, a whole new, sharply focused world. But if the textual narrative is pretty straightforward, the visual subtext is not. The climactic fuzzy-to-sharp spread implies that Paige’s affliction is really no more than simple myopia, but cues scattered through Barclay’s bright, simple cartoon illustrations point, if apparently unintentionally, to more complex vision (or other) problems. Paige wears mismatched shoes of different colors; in one scene, she “reads” a book held upside down; most egregiously, she happily cuddles a “kitty” that is actually a skunk (later, she identifies it correctly and still cuddles it). Even the final scene, in which Paige pours orange juice into her breakfast cereal while disagreeing with her mother’s remark that her glasses are too dirty to see through, doesn’t quite come off as a joke.

It’s hard to judge intent, but even if this might provide lighthearted reassurance for young squinters, it’s going to leave more observant parents and other caregivers disquieted, at best. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0801-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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A sweet story that delivers a healthy message about individuality and friendship to new readers.

MONKEY AND ELEPHANT GET BETTER

A fine follow-up to Monkey and Elephant (2012) follows two friends in sickness and in health.

Comprising three short chapters, the book opens with Monkey feeling a bit put out that her friend Elephant seems to be copying her in a case of elephant-see-elephant-do. This culminates in Elephant sneezing after Monkey does. “Elephant, are you still copying me?” she asks, the picture showing her looking askance in his direction. “No,” the sickly looking pachyderm replies, “I don’t feel so good.” In the next chapter, Monkey rises to the occasion and takes care of her sick friend, a role he assumes when he recovers in the final chapter and must nurse the now-ill Monkey. Part of their caretaking includes entertaining each other in ways only they can: Monkey juggles rocks with not two, but four hands, and Elephant trumpets a song for her with his trunk. Their respective speedy recoveries then prompt them to practice their particular skills so they can “get better” at them just as they “got better” from their illnesses. Ultimately, the themes of individuality, health and friendship don’t come together quite as seamlessly as one might hope, but the cheerful, cartoonish digital illustrations help to mitigate this narrative failing.

A sweet story that delivers a healthy message about individuality and friendship to new readers. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4841-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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