An instructive and entertaining primer on the art of friendship and the complexity of joy.

READ REVIEW

GOOD NEWS BAD NEWS

Working from a text composed solely of the titular phrases (plus one final qualifier) in an ongoing call and response, Mack depicts a day among friends whose dispositions couldn’t be more extreme.

Rabbit is an optimist; framed by a soft, white cloud, he exhibits an overflowing picnic basket joyfully to his buddy. An ominous, grey formation shades Mouse’s skeptical reaction. When the storm begins, the fun-lover produces an umbrella; the frowner is blown into a tree. Happily, it’s an apple tree. Unhappily, the fruit descends forcefully on the fallen rodent. So it proceeds in a fashion reminiscent of Remy Charlip’s Fortunately (1964). The difference here is that viewers see the events through two distinct lenses, and the pair are not only experiencing the same situations, they are mindful of one another’s reactions. The artist manipulates body language and facial features to register a range of emotions through caricatures with personality to spare. Endpapers divided into 18 squares contain images than can inspire a variety of storytelling behaviors from prediction to sequencing. When a bear chases the duo up a flagpole, and lightning fries them to charred silhouettes (à la cartoons of yesteryear—sensitive readers beware), Rabbit’s worldview is clearly rocked, but now it is Mouse’s turn to find the silver lining.

An instructive and entertaining primer on the art of friendship and the complexity of joy.   (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0110-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining.

DON'T FORGET DEXTER!

A lost toy goes through an existential crisis.

The setup is on the copyright page. Amid the markers of a universally recognizable waiting room—fish tank, chairs against the wall, receptionist’s window, kids’ coloring table—is a tiny orange T. Rex with a dialogue balloon: “Hello?” A turn of the page brings Dexter T. Rexter into close view, and he explains his dilemma directly to readers. He and his best friend came for a checkup, but Jack’s disappeared. Maybe readers can help? But when Jack is still MIA, Dexter becomes disconsolate, believing his friend might have left him behind on purpose; maybe he likes another toy better? Dexter weighs his good qualities against those he lacks, and he comes up short. But when readers protest (indicated by a change in Dexter’s tone after the turn of the page), Dexter gains the determination he needs to make a plan. Unfortunately, though hilariously, his escape plan fails. But luckily, a just-as-upset black boy comes looking for Dexter, and the two are reunited. Ward’s ink, colored-pencil, and cut-paper illustrations give readers a toy’s view of the world and allow children to stomp in Dexter’s feet for a while, his facial expressions giving them lots of clues to his feelings. Readers will be reminded of both Knuffle Bunny and Scaredy Squirrel, but Dexter is a character all his own.

Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4727-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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