A sweet, brief glimpse into a universal childhood experience in a very specific place


Better safe than sorry when you don’t feel well.

In a small village in eastern Nigeria, Vicky, who looks about 6, watches listlessly as her friends play all around her and doesn’t take part. Nor does she join in when they start drawing pictures. Vicky also won’t eat her mother’s food, a sure sign that something’s wrong. Her father feels her forehead; it’s hot. Her mother declares she must take Vicky to the doctor. The clinic’s not far away, so they’re able to walk. The doctor, a grandmotherly woman with wire-rimmed eyeglasses, has a gentle manner. She takes Vicky’s temperature and listens to her chest, recommending that the little girl be kept cool and given lots of water. In no time, Vicky feels much better, displaying a healthy appetite and playing and drawing pictures with her friends again. The high-resolution color photographs that illustrate the book provide many interesting details of village life in Nigeria, and Vicky makes a winsome protagonist. In contrast, the story is a bit flat, and Onyefulu’s text has the brevity and stiltedness of a primer. This accessibility should appeal to beginning readers, but as a read-aloud it suffers. Ife’s First Haircut, a companion piece featuring an adorable male toddler, shares this offering’s strengths and weaknesses.

A sweet, brief glimpse into a universal childhood experience in a very specific place .(Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-84780-363-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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