An upbeat, uncomplicated ode to bodies that are big, thick, broad, and boundless.

BIG BOLD BEAUTIFUL ME

Children celebrate their abundant bodies, from their hair to their feet.

Prolific author Yolen joins forces with her grandchild Stemple-Piatt to create a simple, rhyming picture book about the beauty and power of large bodies. Depicting kids with a variety of skin tones, the story employs a gentle formula to uplift physical features that children may feel self-conscious of, including wide feet, thick thighs, and long arms. Each child describes a body part that often attracts attention (a Black youth notes, “Some friends mention my very broad shoulders / Say I’d make small work of mighty big boulders”), followed by a positive framing of the part in question (“But I pull my shoulders back, and I walk with pride”). Each segment concludes with the titular affirmation: “Then I look in the mirror—and what do I see? / BIG and BOLD and BEAUTIFUL me!” As each child repeats the celebratory refrain, Burgett’s cheerful illustrations portray them alongside kids from previous spreads, emphasizing connection and belonging. Disability isn't discussed in the text, though characters with disabilities (including a child with a limb difference and another child who uses a hearing aid) are depicted. In a growing landscape of body-positive children’s literature, this book’s overworked rhymes keep it from shining, but those looking for a gentle introduction to body acceptance will find it a solid option. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An upbeat, uncomplicated ode to bodies that are big, thick, broad, and boundless. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3864-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books.

BUSY BETTY

Actor and author Witherspoon makes her picture-book debut.

Betty, a light-skinned, bespectacled child with blond pigtails, was born busy. Constantly in motion, Betty builds big block towers, cartwheels around the house (underfoot, of course), and plays with the family’s “fantabulous” dog, Frank, who is stinky and dirty. That leads to a big, busy, bright idea that, predictably, caroms toward calamity yet drags along enough hilarity to be entertaining. With a little help from best friend Mae (light-skinned with dark hair), the catastrophe turns into a lucrative dog-washing business. Busy Betty is once again ready to rush off to the next big thing. Yan uses vivid, pastel colors for a spread of a group of diverse kids bringing their dogs to be washed, helping out, and having fun, while the grown-ups are muted and relegated to the background. Extreme angles in several of the illustrations effectively convey a sense of perpetual motion and heighten the story’s tension, drawing readers in. An especially effective, glitter-strewn spread portrays Frank looming large and seemingly running off the page while Betty looks on, stricken at the ensuing mess. Though it’s a familiar and easily resolved story, Witherspoon’s rollicking text never holds back, replete with amusing phrases such as “sweet cinnamon biscuits,” “bouncing biscuits,” and “busted biscuits.” As Betty says, “Being busy is a great way to be.” Young readers are sure to agree. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46588-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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Desperation confused for hysterics.

IF YOU LAUGH, I'M STARTING THIS BOOK OVER

Harris’ latest makes an urgent plea for somber reflection.

“Stop! Stop!! Stop!!!” Right from the get-go, readers are presented with three rules for reading this book (“Don’t look at this book!” “Do look at your listener!” “Get your listener to look at you!”). But the true lesson is in the title itself: If anyone listening to this book laughs, you have to start it all over. Challenge accepted? Good. Sheer frenetic energy propels what passes for a narrative as the book uses every trick up its sleeve to give kids the giggles. Silly names, ridiculous premises, and kooky art combine, all attempting some level of hilarity. Bloch’s art provides a visual cacophony of collaged elements, all jostling for the audience’s attention. Heavily influenced by similar fourth wall–busting titles like The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (1992) by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith, and the more contemporary The Book With No Pictures (2014) by B.J. Novak, these attempts to win over readers and make them laugh will result in less giggles than one might imagine. In the end, the ultimate success of this book may rest less on the art or text and more on the strength of the reader’s presentation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Desperation confused for hysterics. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-42488-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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