From the first page to the last, this inventive, beautifully illustrated tale affirms a child’s value.


Two siblings embrace their own self-worth in this picture book.

Two brown-skinned, curly-haired siblings start their day looking in the mirror. In first-person narration, each says: “I just love what I see….” Beginning with that positive self-image—that their reflections are beautiful—the rhyming text continues describing how each part of the face shows an aspect of the child’s character. A wrinkled, sweaty brow represents both fun and hard work. Between the kids’ ears are always-working brains; their eyes are filled with visions of future dreams; and their noses smell “my greatness.” While they experience setbacks—an embarrassing grade, a scraped chin—the children know they have powerful voices and walk with pride. Ferguson’s smooth, rhyming stanzas employ imaginative turns of phrase and use facial features to evoke more than just the common senses associated with eyes, ears, and noses. Instead, they showcase emotions, accomplishments, and creativity to excellent effect. A few words (embarrassed, defined) may help stretch the vocabularies of emerging readers. Aryutova’s cartoon illustrations are at once realistic and whimsical, deftly capturing the emotional intent of the rhymes and creating two incredibly likable protagonists. Athletics, the sciences, the visual and performing arts, and innovative play are all portrayed as virtuous parts of the lives of the protagonists, showcasing well-rounded likes and dreams sure to appeal to a wide range of readers.

From the first page to the last, this inventive, beautifully illustrated tale affirms a child’s value.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: F.Ferguson Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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