A universal book that can be used to explain fear to readers and give empathy to those in a new environment.

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ME AND MY FEAR

In this companion to The Journey (2017), Sanna reminds readers that the journey for refugees is far from over even after they find a new home.

Featuring the same black-haired, pale-skinned, refugee family from Sanna’s previous book, this installment follows the daughter of the family of three as she adjusts to life in their new country of residence and tries not to let her fear overcome her. Fear is a secret “tiny friend” first portrayed in a positive light as a factor that has “kept me safe.” But being in a new place is overwhelming, and her fear has grown exponentially, both in size and in stubbornness, preventing the narrator from exploring her new world. Fear brings loneliness, self-doubt, and sleepless nights, but it also causes her to rationalize her solitude, believing that those around her cannot and will not understand or like her. When a friendly boy finally connects with her, the narrator is able to manage her fear and realizes that he and others at school also have their own fears that they must manage. Though the fears are sometimes depicted as large, angry, or apprehensive, they are generally small, smiling, ghostlike creatures that are companions to all. Read without the previous book’s context, there are no cultural markers to indicate the family’s background, just text indicating that the family is in a new country, is learning the language, and that the girl’s teacher has a hard time saying her name. The narrator’s classmates have various skin tones and hair color.

A universal book that can be used to explain fear to readers and give empathy to those in a new environment. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911171-53-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Eggs-quisitely excellent.

THE GOOD EGG

Being a good egg can be eggs-cruciatingly stressful.

This earnest counterpart to John and Oswald’s hilarious The Bad Seed (2017) opens with a direct address from an oval-shaped saint to readers: “Oh, hello! I was just rescuing this cat. Know why? Because I’m a good egg.” Just how good is this egg? “Verrrrrry good.” Without hesitation, the bespectacled egg offers to help others with carrying groceries, painting houses, and changing tires. The good egg even tries to “keep the peace” among the other 11 eggs in its dozen, who forgo their bedtime, eat sugary cereal, and break stuff. Rotten eggs indeed! When the pressure of being good proves too much, the beleaguered egg embarks on a journey of self-care. John embeds a seed of a great idea—finding a balance between personal and social responsibility—within a rip-roaring, touching narrative. Despite his sober narrator, the author’s sense of humor remains intact thanks to some clever (and punny) wordplay. Likewise, Oswald’s digitally composed, bright artwork pops with rib-tickling close-ups and character-building moments. Both text and art complement each other perfectly. Too long alone, the protagonist heads back to its rowdy family, imparting a slice of wisdom to readers: “I’ll be good to my fellow eggs while also being good to myself.” It’s an empowering moment made all the better when this good egg returns to find a rapturous welcome from the others.

Eggs-quisitely excellent. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-286600-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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