A fun take on the terrible 2s, if a bit twisted.

Toribio the toddler is a terror.

The text explains that “his parents love him very much. / But they would also love to get some sleep.” In other words, and to invoke the title, Toribio is impossible. A muted color palette contrasts stylistically with the Argentine author/illustrator’s energetic linework, which skillfully conveys Toribio’s vigor (not to mention his volume) while also doing the work of depicting his parents’ weariness. Toribio’s parents desperately want him to stop being afraid of the dark, to eat protein, to bathe without fussing, to nap, and to use the potty. While real-life parents may find the depiction of the parent-child dynamic quite authentic, the story takes a fantastic turn when Toribio’s parents seek help from a “specialist” in solving problems. They end up with an “impossible” solution: After paying a fee and following instructions that involve a magic powder, they sleep uninterrupted and awaken to find that Toribio has transformed into a cat! The story ends rather abruptly at this point, with the parents seeming to rue the fact that they got what they wished for, though Toribio the cat seems perfectly content in the illustrations. All characters appear White in illustrations, with skin color matching the pages’ background colors and dark, straight (if unkempt) hair. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-15.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 25.3% of actual size.)

A fun take on the terrible 2s, if a bit twisted. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77306-434-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021



Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022



A parent and child introduce a way to make daily separations a bit easier.

At school drop-off, a parent rabbit comforts a sad child and hands the little one a heart-shaped object: “I’m giving you my heart to hold / whenever I’m not there.” The heart is meant to remind the child of the parent’s love, celebrate the things the child does well, calm worries, express joy, and watch over the child through the night. The book fails to spell out just how the heart does anything other than serve as a reminder of parental love, however. For instance, “Wave the heart above your head / to sing a happy song.” What’s the connection there? The heart is always in the child’s possession, even when the little bunny is with the parent, contradicting the opening premise that it’s for when the two are apart. Most troublingly, unlike a kissing hand, the wooden keepsake heart that comes with the book could easily be lost; with the statements that it’s the parent’s heart and that the love in the heart will never end, losing the token could be quite upsetting. The artwork features adorable cartoon anthropomorphic animals of various species, two of which use wheelchairs. The font sometimes fills in the centers of the lowercase g, o, a, and letters with hearts, which may cause difficulties for youngsters reading on their own or for those with dyslexia.

Lackluster. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781680102970

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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