A cozy tale of friendship and compromise between two very different creatures.

READ REVIEW

BEAR OUT THERE

A persnickety, stay-at-home bear is pushed beyond his comfort level by a bold and creative arachnid.

Spider has made a new kite, and he begs his friend Bear to come outside and play. Bear has other plans, namely “a tidy day at the house, followed by a nice cup of tea in his cozy chair.” But the wind snatches the kite away from Spider, so Bear grudgingly agrees to help Spider find it. Everything in the forest that delights Spider is anathema to Bear. He does not like the “filthy ground,” the “itchy plants,” and the “pesky bugs all around” (Spider especially likes them). While Bear grumbles, Spider enjoys all the new sights and sounds of the forest. Eventually both friends are exhausted and deterred by the weather, which has turned nasty. They still haven’t found the kite. Just as they are about to give up, they spy the kite high up in a tree. Finally Bear gets his cup of tea, and the friends compromise by flying two kites comfortably from chairs in the garden. Grant’s soft, muted crayon-and-ink illustrations, full of rounded shapes, complement the warm comforting tone of the story, and the text is clearly laid out and should be easily read by beginning readers as well as grown-ups. Spider is adorable, composed of two ocher globes with stubby, unthreatening legs, wide eyes, and a button hat.

A cozy tale of friendship and compromise between two very different creatures. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-745-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Readers are likely to love it to the moon and back.

WILL YOU BE MY FRIEND?

Little Nutbrown Hare ventures out into the wide world and comes back with a new companion in this sequel to Guess How Much I Love You (1994).

Big Nutbrown Hare is too busy, so after asking permission, Little Nutbrown Hare scampers off over the rolling meadow to play by himself. After discovering that neither his shadow nor his reflection make satisfactory playmates (“You’re only another me!”), Little Nutbrown comes to Cloudy Mountain…and meets “Someone real!” It’s a white bunny who introduces herself as Tipps. But a wonderful round of digging and building and chasing about reaches an unexpected end with a game of hide-and-seek, because both hares hide! After waiting a long time to be found, Little Nutbrown Hare hops on home in disappointment, wondering whether he’ll ever see Tipps again. As it turns out, it doesn’t take long to find out, since she has followed him. “Now, where on earth did she come from?” wonders Big Nutbrown. “Her name is Tipps,” Little Nutbrown proudly replies, “and she’s my friend.” Jeram’s spacious, pale-toned, naturalistic outdoor scenes create a properly idyllic setting for this cozy development in a tender child-caregiver relationship—which hasn’t lost a bit of its appealing intimacy in the more than 25 years since its first appearance. As in the first, Big Nutbrown Hare is ungendered, facilitating pleasingly flexible readings.

Readers are likely to love it to the moon and back. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1747-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations.

I BELIEVE I CAN

Diversity is the face of this picture book designed to inspire confidence in children.

Fans of Byers and Bobo’s I Am Enough (2018) will enjoy this book that comes with a universal message of self-acceptance. A line of children practices ballet at the barre; refreshingly, two of the four are visibly (and adorably) pudgy. Another group tends a couple of raised beds; one of them wears hijab. Two more children coax a trepidatious friend down a steep slide. Further images, of children pretending to be pirates, dragons, mimes, playing superhero and soccer, and cooking, are equally endearing, but unfortunately they don’t add enough heft to set the book apart from other empowerment books for children. Though the illustrations shine, the text remains pedagogic and bland. Clichés abound: “When I believe in myself, there’s simply nothing I can’t do”; “Sometimes I am right, and sometimes I am wrong. / But even when I make mistakes, I learn from them to make me strong.” The inclusion of children with varying abilities, religions, genders, body types, and racial presentations creates an inviting tone that makes the book palatable. It’s hard to argue with the titular sentiment, but this is not the only book of its ilk on the shelf.

Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266713-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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