More projection than inspiration, with nothing to make up for it and fussy lettering to boot.



Young animals aspire to admirable traits.

Two protagonists—a white bunny and a gray cat—catalog their goals in first-person rhyming verse that could equally be coming from either of them. “Tomorrow I’ll be ADVENTUROUS / I’ll play and I’ll explore // I’ll make or learn or try something / I’ve never done before!” Illustrating that verse’s first half, the bunny stands confidently in a sailboat on a red sea, while the cat—in the boat’s crow’s nest—peers through a spyglass at a treasure chest on a pink island. For the verse’s second half—“make or learn or try” something new—vignettes showcase diving, painting, going to the dentist, and eating sushi with chopsticks. Unfortunately, casting sushi and/or chopsticks as “something…never done before” excludes and exoticizes readers for whom chopsticks and/or sushi are old hat. Hische’s matte illustrations are friendly, with flat, retro-styled shapes. However, each aspirational adjective marches massively across the double-page spreads, overwhelming the other text, and several of them (“strong,” “curious,” “confident,” “brave”) are set in such fancy and enormous display type that new readers (and even some adults) will need to pause and squint before deciphering the word. The first-person voice, ostensibly a child’s, sounds like an adult’s wishful thinking: “Please teach me something new”; “I’ll try my best”; “Tomorrow I’ll be SMART / I’ll think before I act”; “I’ll…think about / how much you’ve helped me grow!”

More projection than inspiration, with nothing to make up for it and fussy lettering to boot. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-8701-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.


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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