A perfect addition to the rainy-day bookshelf, where joy can be found indoors, knowing the sun will shine again.

SUNNY-SIDE UP

A rainy day dashes a young child’s plans, but with dad’s help, delight can be found in playing indoors.

The warm glow of morning greets a happy child, who proudly sits at the breakfast table. But when a storm is revealed, a tantrum ensues. Daddy soothes ruffled feathers and fears, encouraging the tot to play inside. Soon, cozy pillow nests and a building-block city bloom; under the table, a clubhouse flourishes as the pale-complexioned child serves treats to a couple of stuffies. When Mommy comes home, the rain has stopped, and the two play at the park before sitting down for a family dinner of spaghetti and ice cream. Traditional gender roles are reversed, with the father as the primary caregiver, cooking meals, keeping the schedule, and gently persuading an obstinate child to nap. First-person, rhyming text perfectly captures a young child’s desire for independence and control over choices: “I close my eyes, / and dream about my sunny day. / Where I found fun inside when it was gray.” The illustrations, done in a gentle, welcoming pastel palette, feature simple characters, but the interplay of pattern and color creates sophisticated images. The child’s expressive energy under a mop of straight-brown hair is perfectly captured in jumping, stomping, running, and playing; and Woodcock skillfully layers cooler colors to convey the weather and emotional state of the child. Together the author and artist create an environment full of warmth and love. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.3-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A perfect addition to the rainy-day bookshelf, where joy can be found indoors, knowing the sun will shine again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-257307-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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