With savvy restraint, Goldfinger presents the magic of just watching three children raptly engaged in play.

READ REVIEW

HELLO, MY NAME IS TIGER

A kid who stands out for dressing as a tiger finds he's not as alone as he thought in a gentle story about making new friends.

Toby, a young boy, "liked being a cat more than a boy." Around the house, he plays the part of a frisky cat in a full-body tiger costume. At school, the imaginative play continues as he pounces on leaves, scratches in a sandbox (which, luckily, readers don't see employed as a litter box), and climbs a tree. There, he runs into trouble, remembering that cats can't climb back down. Pete, a young boy in the tree dressed as a monkey, helps out. After Toby and Pete become fast friends, they help a girl named Dottie dress up and join in as a bird named Polly. Author/illustrator Goldfinger's colored-in crayon scenes burst with energy and warmth, and she gets a lot of mileage with expressions that are little more than two dots for eyes and simple, soft lines for faces. (Among their diverse class, Toby, Pete, and Dottie all have light skin.) The costumes look cozy and textured against expansive white backgrounds in compositions that are more sophisticated in the emotional, joyful moments they convey than the sketchy style would at first suggest.

With savvy restraint, Goldfinger presents the magic of just watching three children raptly engaged in play. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-239951-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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