Morning-routine stories abound, but for the very young this one bounces with exuberance.

WAKING DRAGONS

Normally you don’t want to wake the dragon…

But even sleepy dragons need a little bit of prodding to open their eyes in the morning. An eager young knight and his faithful squire-puppy run around the bed, desperately tugging on blankets, dodging fiery yawns and heaving these great beasts off the mattress. Yolen is an expert on dinosaurs’ daily activities (How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?, illustrated by Mark Teague, 2000, etc.) and can put monsters to bed (Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters, illustrated by Kelly Murphy, 2011), but what about dragons? Starting simply, with only a few words per page: “Dragons wake up. // Dragons rise. // Dragons open / dragon eyes.” Yolen then plays with the scansion, but she keeps the energetic beat throughout. Some rhymes may cause eye-rolling at first (“syrup” and “cheer up,” for example) but in the end come across as quite charming. The drippy, syrupy waffles catapulted into the dragons’ mouths are too darn adorable to resist. Anderson’s bright acrylic illustrations round out the spare text with many added details and guffaws. Tooth brushing, breakfast and other cranky morning chores may have readers guessing that these dragons are off to school, but they have another very important reason for waking up.

Morning-routine stories abound, but for the very young this one bounces with exuberance. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9032-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Treacle drips from every page. Find self-esteem elsewhere.

ISLE OF YOU

The voice of an omniscient narrator, who may or may not be a caregiver, speaks directly to an unhappy child with an invitation to a very special place.

The child follows directions to the beautiful title isle “just across the bay.” Ferried across by a toy elephant in a sailboat, the child is given an enthusiastic welcome by more adorable animals and some other children. The little one swims in a waterfall, rides a giant eagle, relaxes in a hammock, and happily engages with some of the other children. Several of the activities are stereotypically girl-associated, and the other children appear to be girls with varying skin tones and hair textures; the little protagonist has light skin and a brown pageboy and is only suggested as female. After elaborate entertainments and a sweet feast, the child is assured that “someone loves you very, very, very much” before being borne safely home. Deep purple, bright pastel pink, and yellow watercolors dominate the color palette, creating a magical, otherworldly atmosphere. But it is also somewhat creepy as well. The Isle of You exists only for the protagonist’s happiness, even the other children there, who appear to have no existence in the real world. Apparently intended to build self-esteem and comfort, it seems to encourage self-centeredness instead, as does the ending play on the pronunciation of the title words.

Treacle drips from every page. Find self-esteem elsewhere. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9116-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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