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HOUNDSLEY AND CATINA AT THE LIBRARY

Gentle existentialism for emergent readers.

Three anthropomorphic animals share a story about community and life changes.

Houndsley, a dog who bakes muffins, Bert, a scarf-clad white bird, and Catina, a creative white cat, spend every Saturday at the library. They teach others to read, shelve books, and do yoga, respectively, generating a dynamic image of what goes on these days in libraries beyond sitting and reading a book. Cheery watercolor illustrations nestle with paragraphs of large, plain text with ample negative space for emergent readers. One Saturday, the normally cheerful librarian, a white bunny named Trixie, is unexpectedly downcast. The friends learn that Trixie is retiring to attend circus school, which means the library will be closing imminently. A hand-drawn sign announces a final chance to wish Trixie well and to return library books, and it also encourages everyone to “bring something special” for Trixie. As the week unfolds, each animal pursues thoughtful going-away gestures for Trixie, and one in the group puts thought toward how to save the fate of the library. Themes of kindness, adapting to sudden change, and pursuing personal growth make this early reader a touchpoint for conversations. Even with these opportunities for dynamic discussion, the plot’s drama and stress are resolved in a quick and satisfying manner. A table of contents will make this outing feel like a chapter book, readers gaining confidence.

Gentle existentialism for emergent readers. (Early reader. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9662-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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LITTLE DAYMOND LEARNS TO EARN

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists.

How to raise money for a coveted poster: put your friends to work!

John, founder of the FUBU fashion line and a Shark Tank venture capitalist, offers a self-referential blueprint for financial success. Having only half of the $10 he needs for a Minka J poster, Daymond forks over $1 to buy a plain T-shirt, paints a picture of the pop star on it, sells it for $5, and uses all of his cash to buy nine more shirts. Then he recruits three friends to decorate them with his design and help sell them for an unspecified amount (from a conveniently free and empty street-fair booth) until they’re gone. The enterprising entrepreneur reimburses himself for the shirts and splits the remaining proceeds, which leaves him with enough for that poster as well as a “brand-new business book,” while his friends express other fiscal strategies: saving their share, spending it all on new art supplies, or donating part and buying a (math) book with the rest. (In a closing summation, the author also suggests investing in stocks, bonds, or cryptocurrency.) Though Miles cranks up the visual energy in her sparsely detailed illustrations by incorporating bright colors and lots of greenbacks, the actual advice feels a bit vague. Daymond is Black; most of the cast are people of color. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-56727-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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WHAT THE ROAD SAID

Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2021

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