A timely, vibrant, and cheerfully illustrated reminder about the importance of balance.

JACKIE DOES IT ALL

An overachieving scout learns the value of saying no in this picture book.

Butterfly Brigade member Jackie, a confident girl with brown skin, curly hair, and glasses, is excited to attend her first scout jamboree. Her enthusiasm for earning patches puts her in the running for the “top scout overall” Golden Monarch Award. She comes up with a plan to enter the Great Jamboree storytelling competition, which would earn her two more patches—she just has to write a tale before the event. It seems simple enough, but when her fellow scouts ask for help fixing their banner and Ms. Cruz needs Jackie to dogsit, the girl finds herself in over her head. Luckily, Mommy’s there with sage advice: “To make people happy, I know how far you would go, / but there often” come times “when you just have to say ‘NO!’ ” For children (and adults) who struggle because they take on too many tasks, this valuable lesson—learned early—could save a lot of future tears. Jackie is a likable protagonist who strives to help everyone. She eventually learns that taking care of herself is just as vital. Ferguson’s humorous, rhyming stanzas scan smoothly throughout, and the invented scouting organization allows more children to identify with Jackie’s goals. The action-oriented illustrations that depict a brown-skinned cast are where Jackie really shines. Aryutova deftly captures the girl’s spirit and challenges in soft-edged, cartoon images.

A timely, vibrant, and cheerfully illustrated reminder about the importance of balance.

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-73616-213-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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