Child-centered, reassuring, and welcome.

I AM THE STORM

Storms can be frightening, but they can also create memorable family times.

Four children describe how they experienced a tornado, a blizzard, a wildfire, and a hurricane with comforting family members. Words and pictures work together to show joyful moments in what might be scary times. The children come from different parts of the country and may have different family structures, but their grown-ups are thoughtful and supportive. During a tornado, a brown-skinned family reads and plays games in the basement with their grandmother. An Asian-American family cooks on a campfire in the fireplace during a blizzard. White children camp with their dad in a field of wildflowers as a fire ranges beyond the mountains across a river. And Black children escape to their cousins’ house and pretend to be in boats during a hurricane. Flashlights are evident. After each storm, a different pleasant activity is recounted—maybe even dancing. “It’s okay to be scared,” one narrator tells readers. “Nature is strong and powerful. / But, I am strong and powerful, too,” adds another. This comforting title is part of a new line of picture books explicitly aimed at helping children feel capable and supported, and it does so perfectly. The repetitive storytelling shows that some things can be predictable amid the unpredictable. Aftermatter adds a paragraph of further information about each of the four storms. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 85.5% of actual size.)

Child-centered, reassuring, and welcome. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22275-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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