An expertly drawn and composed introduction to self-discovery.

Wishes can help us to feel brave.

Birdie, a light-skinned girl with curly red hair, is happy by herself, reading books, watching bugs, and blowing on delicate wishing flowers. But when she is around other children, Birdie feels out of place and shy. When a new girl arrives in her classroom, Birdie is entranced. Sunny, who is beige-skinned with long dark pigtails, has a “nature name” like Birdie’s, and they like many of the same things—reading, rescuing bugs, drawing…and wishes. The more they play together, the braver Birdie feels, finding her way, little by little, out of her shell. Soon, Birdie feels confident enough to play with the other children at school, too. Birdie’s wish has come true and helped her to grow inside and out. Loose lines and vibrant springtime hues of deep green, blue, and purple lend a playful aura to the girls’ interactions, at times even seeming ethereal and otherworldly. Birdie’s responses to Sunny’s presence—her stomach does flips, she blushes, and her heart beats fast—suggest that this is more than a friendship; many young queer readers will feel seen. Smaller vignettes pair well with larger spreads that alternate close-up and distant perspectives, drawing readers into the drama of new friendships and Birdie’s social-emotional development. Concise prose, at times nearly poetic, features expressive and carefully chosen phrases, such as “Her heart ballooned like a parachute.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An expertly drawn and composed introduction to self-discovery. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 30, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-43044-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023


Sentimental but effective.

A book aimed at easing separation anxiety and reinforcing bonds.

Twins Liza and Jeremy awaken during a thunderstorm and go to their mother for comfort. She reassures them that they’re safe and says, “You know we’re always together, no matter what,” when they object to returning to bed. She then explains that when she was a child her mother told her about the titular “Invisible String,” encouraging them to envision it as a link between them no matter what. “People who love each other are always connected by a very special String made of love,” she tells them, reinforcing this idea as they proceed to imagine various scenarios, fantastic and otherwise, that might cause them to be separated in body. She also affirms that this string can “reach all the way to Uncle Brian in heaven” and that it doesn’t go away if she’s angry with them or when they have conflicts. As they go to bed, reassured, the children, who present white, imagine their friends and diverse people around the world connected with invisible strings, promoting a vision of global unity and empathy. While the writing often feels labored and needlessly repetitive, Lew-Vriethoff’s playful cartoon art enhances and lightens the message-driven text, which was originally published in 2000 with illustrations by Geoff Stevenson.

Sentimental but effective. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-48623-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018


A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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