MY DEAR NOEL

THE STORY OF A LETTER FROM BEATRIX POTTER

PLB 0-8037-2051-3 Johnson enchantingly recounts for the picture-book audience the well-known story of the origins of Beatrix Potter’s first book. The impending visit of the beloved “Miss Potter” to the Moore household in about 1893 fires much excitement in the children. The studious, isolated Miss Potter, shown first in her study with microscope and drawing pencils, gives generously of her nature with them: “She told jokes that made them ache with giggles. She drew pictures and never said, ‘I’m tired, that’s enough!’ “ When Noel becomes ill, miserable and lonely in bed for months, a letter with pictures comes from Miss Potter. The endpapers reproduce that letter, the intact story of Peter Rabbit, its compositions exquisite, its sketches true to life, its narrative perfect. Despite some awkwardness in the proportions and placement of the figures, this book is an obvious labor of love; Johnson shows considerable talent in her representation of the period and in the household of the wealthy Moores. That Peter Rabbit’s mischief was written down first for a real child will make that story all the more powerful to readers, and may be their first acquaintance with literary history. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2050-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1998

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ROOM ON THE BROOM

Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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