BLUE HORSE

A tender-hearted tale about overcoming the pangs of social anxiety. Having just moved to town, Tilly gazes longingly at the children in the playground but is too shy to approach them. She learns that playing such favorite childhood games as hide-and-seek is not much fun solo. However, with judicious use of her imagination, she soon discovers a special playmate of her own. A stuffed, blue horse becomes her companion. With the ingenuity of youth, Tilly has lively interactions with her special friend, sharing many conversations and adventures together. When Tilly spies a girl playing alone on the playground, her bond with the blue horse bolsters her confidence, enabling her to seek out a new friend. Stephens’s (The Quigleys, 2002, etc.) empathetic tale is on target for preschoolers. She compassionately addresses the trials of bashfulness and models simple coping strategies that are appropriate for small fry. Young readers can readily identify with Tilly’s dilemma and will appreciate her imaginative solution. The full-bleed illustrations are densely colored in a myriad of vibrant hues: Tilly’s teal and purple room with its sunshine yellow door is a perfect haven for a child. In her expressive paintings, Stephens deftly segues into the fantasy sequences with ease, using items that were already in Tilly’s room to inspire her subsequent flights of fancy. This warmly reassuring tale is ideal to share with hesitant little ones. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-439-43178-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2003

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text.

KINDNESS GROWS

Rhyming verses about kindness using a consistent metaphor of widening cracks versus blooming plants are amplified by cutouts on each page.

The art and layout are spectacular, from the cover through the double-page spreads near the end. Racially diverse toddlers are shown engaging in various moods and behaviors, some of which create unhappiness and some of which lead to friendship and happiness. Every page’s color palette and composition perfectly complement the narrative. The initial verso shows two children in aggressive stances, backgrounded by a dark, partly moonlit sky. Between them is a slender, crooked cutout. The large-type text reads: “It all / starts / with a / crack / that we can hardly see. / It happens when we shout / or if we disagree.” The recto shows two children in sunlight, with one offering a pretty leaf to the other, and the rhyme addresses the good that grows from kindness. In this image, the crooked die cut forms the trunk of a tiny sapling. Until the final double-page spreads, the art follows this clever setup: dark deeds and a crack on the left, and good deeds and a growing tree on the right. Unfortunately, the text is far from the equal of the art: It is banal and preachy, and it does not even scan well without some effort on the part of whomever is reading it. Still, the youngest children will solemnly agree with the do’s and don’ts, and they may decide to memorize a page or two.

Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-229-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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