The diminutive size—approximately 5 inches by 7 inches—negates group use but makes this perfect for a child on a lap or as a...

A BOOK IS A BOOK

This whimsical ode to the codex is an endorsement both of reading and of what has been coined the “thingyness” of books—and it avoids the fatal, superior tone that concludes Lane Smith’s similarly themed, otherwise-ingenious It’s a Book.

The opening double-page spread sets a humorous tone: Hats, human heads and a pair of rabbit ears reveal readers behind a long, bleeding-off-the-page line of colorful, many-sized, open books. The recto bears the simple sentence, “A book is to read.” The next page hastens to explain that “[a] book is paper,” lest anyone should consider other options. Even a page devoted to clandestine bedroom reading ignores possible advantages of e-books. Later, a fanciful, double-page spread advises people to use books in order to traverse “your room without touching the floor”: A pajama-clad girl flees alligators as she hops from book to book. (“You should only use your biggest, worst books for this game.”) Pronouncements range from obvious to funny to downright bizarre, all accompanied by stylized, lighthearted ink-and-watercolor artwork. The one disappointment in the art is a lack of cultural diversity in the numerous people and in the settings—only a few of these avid readers appear to be anything other than Caucasian; this partly diminishes the text’s theme of books as universally beloved objects.

The diminutive size—approximately 5 inches by 7 inches—negates group use but makes this perfect for a child on a lap or as a stocking stuffer for older bibliophiles. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-877579-92-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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