A sweet, feel-good story with plenty of interesting visual detail.

READ REVIEW

BEAR'S SCARE

A house-proud bear is convinced that his house is clean and everything inside is in shipshape condition.

He and his dearest friend, Ursa, a tiny stuffed bear, clean the house from top to bottom every day. However, when mysterious webs start appearing all over the house, Bear realizes they have a messy problem. Things go from bad to worse when, in his effort to locate the spider, Bear topples furniture and inadvertently tears off little Ursa’s arm. Distraught, he lies on the floor, the wounded bear in his arms, before running to fetch a first aid kit. When he returns, he discovers that the little bear’s arm has been neatly reattached with…spider webs! The jaunty little spider (who wears a beret and has been visible to readers all along) now becomes Bear’s friend, along with all its webby relatives. The fairly slight story, with its simple message of teaching tolerance, is saved from mundanity by Grant’s stylish, charcoal-and-crayon illustrations, digitally colored in an unusual muted palette of peaches and browns. The white webs stand out well in the pictures, and readers will have fun pointing out the spider in illustrations where Bear has not spotted it, as well as all the little spiders larking about. The repetitive, declarative text is ideal for beginning readers.

A sweet, feel-good story with plenty of interesting visual detail. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-720-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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