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A poignant work about seeking and finding comfort.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2022

A young crane seeks out ways to keep from forgetting a deceased brother in Cade’s series picture book about love, loss, and healing.

A mother, father, and child crane mourn the loss of Archie, the child’s sibling; the parents struggle to discuss what has happened. Finally, the child says, “I will miss him forever, but I am still here. / Don’t forget about me when I need you so near.” As the family comes together to remember their loved one, they focus on the good times, but the child worries about forgetting those memories. During a walk, the young crane asks Mr. Frog, Mrs. Bison, Mr. LeBron the dragonfly, Mrs. Beaver, and the bison’s companion birds how each remembers those they’ve lost. Cade’s smooth, simple rhymes go to the heart of the young crane’s grief without feeling overwhelming; the animals’ advice provides a new outlook to help young, grieving readers find ways to channel their emotions into empowerment. Einer’s mixed-media illustrations feature a painted blue background with cartoon animals; the realistic landscapes and somewhat realistic animals with human accessories (boots, bags, skateboards) bring the situations to life in a kid-friendly way. The sympathetic words and comforting images create a safe space for children to sit with grief and for parents to begin healing conversations.

A poignant work about seeking and finding comfort.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-954211-03-2

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Snapdragon Ink

Review Posted Online: April 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022


Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020


A joyful celebration.

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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