A daffy paean to teamwork.

READ REVIEW

THE BIG RED ROCK

A little green monster is stymied by a big red rock.

Small, horned Bif is walking along, munching on his breakfast cereal, when he bumps into the titular impediment, which blocks the path. Yelling at the rock doesn’t cause it to move, and neither does asking it politely. Bif “kicks,” “bashes,” “pushes,” and “pesters” the rock, to no avail. Blue Bop comes along and summons the Big Red Rock Eater, but her loose tooth prevents her from making much headway. The Small Blue Rock Singer has a powerful voice, but it can’t budge the rock. Neither can the Yellow Rock Crusher, the Green Rock Driller, the Orange Rock Scarer, the Pink Rock Sucker, the Purple Rock Tickler, nor even the Big Red Rocket. The monsters give up and decide to play, dancing in a conga line and finding themselves suddenly on the other side of the rock. But now Bif wants to finish his breakfast, and that big red rock is in the way….Stockham’s wry fable may leave its protagonist unenlightened, but child readers will have seen the obvious solution and will be thrilled at their perspicacity. The monsters are a totally un-frightening if snaggle-toothed bunch, benign smiles eliciting giggles rather than screams. They are defined by thick, soft, gray lines, while the rock is an imposing red blob textured by what looks like charcoal or black crayon.

A daffy paean to teamwork. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78628-003-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations.

I BELIEVE I CAN

Diversity is the face of this picture book designed to inspire confidence in children.

Fans of Byers and Bobo’s I Am Enough (2018) will enjoy this book that comes with a universal message of self-acceptance. A line of children practices ballet at the barre; refreshingly, two of the four are visibly (and adorably) pudgy. Another group tends a couple of raised beds; one of them wears hijab. Two more children coax a trepidatious friend down a steep slide. Further images, of children pretending to be pirates, dragons, mimes, playing superhero and soccer, and cooking, are equally endearing, but unfortunately they don’t add enough heft to set the book apart from other empowerment books for children. Though the illustrations shine, the text remains pedagogic and bland. Clichés abound: “When I believe in myself, there’s simply nothing I can’t do”; “Sometimes I am right, and sometimes I am wrong. / But even when I make mistakes, I learn from them to make me strong.” The inclusion of children with varying abilities, religions, genders, body types, and racial presentations creates an inviting tone that makes the book palatable. It’s hard to argue with the titular sentiment, but this is not the only book of its ilk on the shelf.

Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266713-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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