An upbeat introduction to coping with a disability.

HAPPY AGAIN

From the I Like To Read series

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. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

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

TISHA AND THE BLOSSOMS

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 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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