As simple and soft as a hug—and as reassuring.

READ REVIEW

BIRD, BALLOON, BEAR

Bird’s new in the forest, and as much as he’d like to befriend Bear, he never quite gets up the courage to say hello.

When Bear happens upon a bouncing red balloon, one that dances and plays, Bird watches, hidden behind branches and tree trunks. Muted, wintry colors and recurring round shapes perfectly describe both Bird’s vulnerability and his meek desire for friendship. Looking at Bird’s plump belly, the balloon’s swollen circumference, Bear’s pillow-y body and ears, as well as at trees with dot-shaped leaves and at the loop-the-loop roller coaster and circling Ferris wheel in the distance, young readers will internalize an enveloping sense of roundness and soft edges, coming to recognize it as the very shape and feel of empathy. They know how Bird feels. They might remember peering out from behind caregivers’ legs to scout potential playmates, kicking pebbles in the recess yard, giving hopeful looks to another loner practicing handstands, meeting the eager, glinting eyes of a fellow camper across the campfire. Na’s illustrations—painterly layers of color, texture, and intuitive shapes—conjure tender associations, making his simple story not only immensely pleasing, but important. When Bird tries to rescue the balloon from the wind, making himself known, there’s a familiar rush of relief and joy. And a POP! that leads not to disaster but to friendship.

As simple and soft as a hug—and as reassuring. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-55155-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original...

A KISSING HAND FOR CHESTER RACCOON

From the Kissing Hand series

A sweetened, condensed version of the best-selling picture book, The Kissing Hand.

As in the original, Chester Raccoon is nervous about attending Owl’s night school (raccoons are nocturnal). His mom kisses him on the paw and reminds him, “With a Kissing Hand… / We’ll never be apart.” The text boils the story down to its key elements, causing this version to feel rushed. Gone is the list of fun things Chester will get to do at school. Fans of the original may be disappointed that this board edition uses a different illustrator. Gibson’s work is equally sentimental, but her renderings are stiff and flat in comparison to the watercolors of Harper and Leak. Very young readers will probably not understand that Owl’s tree, filled with opossums, a squirrel, a chipmunk and others, is supposed to be a school.

Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original shouldn’t look to this version as replacement for their page-worn copies. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-933718-77-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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