This book beautifully changes the narrative of gender and gender roles, but fair warning—the hug scene might bring a tear or...

Errol and his teddy, Thomas, play together all the time, so when Thomas is sad one day, Errol wants to know if he can help.

Thomas nervously tells Errol that she’s actually a girl teddy, and she wishes her name was Tilly. Errol hugs her, assuring her, “What matters is that you are my friend.” With Tilly feeling better, Errol calls their friend Ava to come play. On arriving, she greets Tilly by her old name, but Errol introduces Tilly. Ava tells her what a great name that is and invites her to go play. Tilly has one adjustment to make—she refashions her bow tie into a hair bow—and Ava, encouraging her to wear what she likes, takes her own hair bow off to let her long red hair go free. Life goes on as normal for Errol and Tilly, and as before, they ride Errol’s bike, plant vegetables in the garden, eat lunch in the treehouse, and have tea parties when it rains. Walton gently explains Tilly’s gender, which is a small ripple in the lives of children at play, and subtly pokes at gender roles with Errol’s tea parties and Ava’s robot building. MacPherson’s illustrations are sweet, with a sketchy, contemporary style. He draws Errol and Ava skinny, with white skin and pink noses. Tilly is plump with tiny ears.

This book beautifully changes the narrative of gender and gender roles, but fair warning—the hug scene might bring a tear or two. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-210-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2016


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


Sentimental but effective.

A book aimed at easing separation anxiety and reinforcing bonds.

Twins Liza and Jeremy awaken during a thunderstorm and go to their mother for comfort. She reassures them that they’re safe and says, “You know we’re always together, no matter what,” when they object to returning to bed. She then explains that when she was a child her mother told her about the titular “Invisible String,” encouraging them to envision it as a link between them no matter what. “People who love each other are always connected by a very special String made of love,” she tells them, reinforcing this idea as they proceed to imagine various scenarios, fantastic and otherwise, that might cause them to be separated in body. She also affirms that this string can “reach all the way to Uncle Brian in heaven” and that it doesn’t go away if she’s angry with them or when they have conflicts. As they go to bed, reassured, the children, who present white, imagine their friends and diverse people around the world connected with invisible strings, promoting a vision of global unity and empathy. While the writing often feels labored and needlessly repetitive, Lew-Vriethoff’s playful cartoon art enhances and lightens the message-driven text, which was originally published in 2000 with illustrations by Geoff Stevenson.

Sentimental but effective. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-48623-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

Close Quickview