Sweet—almost too sweet.

READ REVIEW

DANDYLION SUMMER

Two sisters wish on a dandelion seed for “the best summer ever” and suddenly see a plant-bedecked lion, whom they name Dandylion.

The story is told by the younger sister, beginning with: “On the last day of school, my sister and I find a dandelion on the walk home.” The girls are portrayed simply, with light skin, large brown eyes, and single lines for eyebrows, mouths, and noses. Shades of green in Dandylion’s mane set off the many-colored flowers and leaves around his nonmenacing, round-eyed face. Both art and text are simple and gentle, portraying a summer full of lazy, play-filled days, moonlit nights, and unwavering familial affection. The layout varies from double-page spreads to single pages with more than one discrete image; a particularly sweet section shows the girls riding on Dandylion’s back, reading a book with him in a tent, and then all three lying on their backs in a meadow that is certainly tick-free. Dandylion has been introduced to a number of townsfolk, but that doesn’t keep him from fading away as summer turns toward autumn. The little sister is sad, but her big sister is confident that Dandylion and summer will both return. The final spread offers a concluding beat that relieves a text that was becoming almost unbearably sentimental. Yoko Tanaka’s Dandelion’s Dream (2020) offers a different, richer take on the dandelion-come-to-feline-life theme.

Sweet—almost too sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-13339-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Gently encourages empathy, compassion, and consideration.

TOMORROW I'LL BE KIND

How will you behave tomorrow?

Utilizing the same format and concept of her popular Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave (2018), Hische presents young listeners with short, studied rhymes that describe various positive attributes (being helpful, patient, gentle, honest, generous, graceful, and kind). Also included are kid-friendly ways to incorporate these behaviors into daily life, with the underlying goal of making the world a better place. The illustrations, which feature friends in the forms of a mouse, cat, and rabbit, are colorful and appealing, and they extend the text by showing some additional ways of realizing the characteristics mentioned. Overall, the intentions are aboveboard, but this is a volume intended to teach about positive values and behavior, and as such, it comes across as somewhat treacly and proselytizing. The key words, incorporated into the illustrations in a graphic manner, are sometimes a bit difficult to read, and occasionally, select vocabulary and phrases (“to myself I will be true”; “my heart, my guiding light”) seem better suited for an older readership. Still, as an introduction to personality characteristics, beneficial behaviors, and social-emotional skills, this is a solid choice, and fans of the previous volume are likely to embrace this one as well. “I’ll dream of all the good that comes / when we all just do our best,” the text explains—a sentiment that’s hard to rebut.

Gently encourages empathy, compassion, and consideration. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-8704-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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