This well-intentioned story about pregnancy loss is far from perfect but fills a gap.

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MAMA BIRD LOST AN EGG

A young swallow comforts his mother after the loss of her egg.

Used to his mother soothing him when he’s sad, Gabriel is heartbroken to discover Mommy Swallow crying. When she tells him how her nest collapsed and her egg was lost, Gabriel is sad he won’t be a big brother. To comfort his mother, Gabriel reminds her of the world’s beauty as the two swallows fly, dive, and survey the forest on a summer day. As Mommy Swallow embraces him, Gabriel glows with pride to see his mother’s “eyes smiling” once more. Originally published in Canada and translated from French, this quiet story is distinctive for specifically addressing pregnancy loss. The brief, gentle text, descriptive yet with room for discussion, pairs pleasantly with painterly, tranquil nature landscapes. Although the birds are charming, their strictly realistic rendering precludes visual character development through body and facial expressions. There is also an unfortunate emotional distance created by the loss of the egg outside the bird’s body, instead of inside, as with humans. Finally, making Gabriel the key to his mother’s happiness is a sweet idea, but it both places inappropriate responsibility on the child and disempowers Mommy Swallow; it may also alienate those caregivers reading aloud who have not experienced a successful pregnancy. In reality, although there are important external supports, for many adults experiencing pregnancy loss, resilience and strength must ultimately come from within.

This well-intentioned story about pregnancy loss is far from perfect but fills a gap. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-2-89802-082-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: CrackBoom! Books

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories.

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CREEPY CARROTS!

Kids know vegetables can be scary, but rarely are edible roots out to get someone. In this whimsical mock-horror tale, carrots nearly frighten the whiskers off Jasper Rabbit, an interloper at Crackenhopper Field.

Jasper loves carrots, especially those “free for the taking.” He pulls some in the morning, yanks out a few in the afternoon, and comes again at night to rip out more. Reynolds builds delicious suspense with succinct language that allows understatements to be fully exploited in Brown’s hilarious illustrations. The cartoon pictures, executed in pencil and then digitally colored, are in various shades of gray and serve as a perfectly gloomy backdrop for the vegetables’ eerie orange on each page. “Jasper couldn’t get enough carrots … / … until they started following him.” The plot intensifies as Jasper not only begins to hear the veggies nearby, but also begins to see them everywhere. Initially, young readers will wonder if this is all a product of Jasper’s imagination. Was it a few snarling carrots or just some bathing items peeking out from behind the shower curtain? The ending truly satisfies both readers and the book’s characters alike. And a lesson on greed goes down like honey instead of a forkful of spinach.

Serve this superbly designed title to all who relish slightly scary stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0297-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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