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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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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The soft cadence of the rhyming verses and the joyous pictures of the elephants will make this a bedtime favorite

THIS IS OUR BABY, BORN TODAY

When a baby elephant is born, “wrinkled and gray,” not just the herd, but the whole world rejoices, from morning to night.

From the proud Mama to the grand Aunts, from the “fertile and firm” Earth to the ancient Banyan tree, everyone and everything around the new baby elephant joins in celebration and care for the Baby “who warms the hearts of the world today.” Glowing with warm golds and greens and shadowed with deep blues and greens, the gorgeous artwork lushly illuminates the day of an elephant’s birth as it is cared for by its family and surroundings. The expressions on the elephant faces are sheer joy to behold; the elephant smiles are realistic and yet radiate affection. Seemingly simple, this gentle rhyming story works on two levels: the playfulness of the young elephant and its friends ensure that young children will be able to see themselves in the story, and given the depiction of the natural scenes, at least some young readers will become fascinated with the lives of elephants as well. An author’s note at the end provides background from the Indian-American author’s own life and also draws attention to the present-day need to protect elephants from poaching and the loss of habitat.

The soft cadence of the rhyming verses and the joyous pictures of the elephants will make this a bedtime favorite . (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16684-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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