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From the I Like To Read series

An upbeat introduction to coping with a disability.

An anthropomorphic lion, based on the author himself, adjusts to becoming paraplegic.

With short, simple sentences, translated from Slovenian, Plohl introduces beginning readers to the character first seen in his picture book Lucas Makes a Comeback (2021). At first, “Lucas is a happy lion,” his arms outstretched, his house and bicycle in the background. But after Lucas falls from a ladder, “he cannot walk anymore. Lucas is sad.” As a frowning Lucas imagines cycling, driving, and skiing, the author asks, “Can Lucas be happy again?” Fortunately, life improves: Lucas “learns new ways to do things,” such as ironing. He uses a low sink and gets help with housekeeping. He gets a hand-powered bike, and his friends give him a “special car,” presumably with hand controls. Though being a teacher makes him smile and playing wheelchair basketball makes him cheer, he’s only “almost happy again.” What’s missing? As Lucas and another lion tenderly hold paws, the author explains, “He needs someone to love. Now he is happy again.” The matter-of-fact text and Šonc’s bright, appealingly childlike cartoon illustrations reassure readers that adaptations and support make it possible to thrive with a disability. However, the ending, though sweet, risks implying that truly being happy after becoming disabled requires a romantic relationship. Color photos of Slovenian author Plohl performing everyday activities conclude the tale. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An upbeat introduction to coping with a disability. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8234-5376-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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A full-hearted valentine.

A soaring panegyric to elementary school as a communal place to learn and grow.

“This is a kid,” Schu begins. “This is a kid in a class. This is a class in a hall….” If that class—possibly second graders, though they could be a year to either side of that—numbers only about a dozen in Jamison’s bright paintings, it makes up for that in diversity, with shiny faces of variously brown or olive complexion well outnumbering paler ones; one child using a wheelchair; and at least two who appear to be Asian. (The adult staff is likewise racially diverse.) The children are individualized in the art, but the author’s narrative is addressed more to an older set of readers as it runs almost entirely to collective nouns and abstract concepts: “We share. We help. / This is a community, growing.” Younger audiences will zero in on the pictures, which depict easily recognizable scenes of both individual and collective learning and play, with adults and classmates always on hand to help out or join in. Signs of conflict are unrealistically absent, but an occasional downcast look does add a bit of nuance to the general air of eager positivity on display. A sad face at an apartment window with a comment that “[s]ometimes something happens, and we can’t all be together” can be interpreted as an oblique reference to pandemic closings, but the central message here is that school is a physical space, not a virtual one, where learning and community happen. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A full-hearted valentine. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0458-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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A sweet reminder to pause and ponder life’s everyday wonders.

A young girl models mindfulness as she savors each moment.

This charming and vibrant picture book opens in Tisha’s backyard, where she is reaching skyward as falling blossoms float toward her. Her joy and anticipation are disrupted by a series of “hurry up” commands from those around her, who prod her to rush for the school bus, attend an assembly, and make sure that she doesn’t miss lunch. The externally imposed directions conflict with Tisha’s natural curiosity, which compels her not only to “listen to the sounds” and to count the spots on a ladybug she finds during recess, but also to create connections between a book she finds about space and the space shuttle she imagines but cannot finish drawing because “it’s time to put the crayons away.” When Tisha requests “a little slowdown,” she and Mommy decide to walk home and play “How Many?” along the way; they also snuggle on a park bench and name all the pigeons. What began as a harried day ends on an idyllic note with a family picnic under flowering trees; when the wind blows, Tisha can catch a blossom at last. Artful and striking illustrations produce a multitude of visual textures that delineate individual blooms, sketch Tisha’s neighborhood, render colorful yet subtle details of characters and clothing, and deliver painterly impressions. Tisha and her family are tan-skinned with dark hair; her classmates are diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet reminder to pause and ponder life’s everyday wonders. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2198-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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