THE PERFECT BEAR

Shields’s affecting tale chronicles an arrogant toy’s transition from revered object to beloved companion. Upon his arrival at the home of a young girl, the stuffed bear—very conscious and proud of his immaculate finery—is appalled when his new owner wants to actually play with him. With sly humor Shields details the bear’s disgruntled indignation as he endures being splashed with paint, given an impromptu bath and the like. However, when the now shabby bear becomes separated from his girl in a store, he experiences an epiphany, discovering that a person’s—or stuffed bear’s—worth cannot be measured by such superficial merits as their appearance. Blythe’s full-color oil paintings are brimming with rich detail and texture. His expressive illustrations of bear employ subtle nuances, which perfectly illuminate the bear’s persona and his emotional transformation. At the center of this whimsical tale is a gently reassuring message regarding the nature of love and acceptance that young readers will embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 25, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-5363-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2008

A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

HOME

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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