Nat’s sunny smile is hard to resist.

NAT THE CAT'S SUNNY SMILE

Who wouldn’t smile at a day of picnic fun?

“Nat the Cat jumped out of bed / with a smile spread halfway around her head. / She packed a picnic snack to share / with her friends Billy Goat and Hugo Hare.” However, when she knocks on Hugo’s door, he’s feeling gray to match the clouds. Sunny Nat is fine with that; she pats his head and goes on her way. At Billy Goat’s house, she knocks again, but he’s got a case of the grumpies. Nat pats his head too and continues on. Unbeknownst to Nat, her smiles and pats have cheered Hugo’s grays away and banished Billy’s grumpies. Unfortunately, Nat starts to feel down; what fun is a picnic alone? And the sky does look a bit gray. Then her two friends surprise her by showing up for the snack. They sing a song (music included) and have a grand game of Frisbee. Prolific British storybook author/illustrator/musician Alborough gives Nat a blue guitar, which she carries slung on her back in the big, bright, friendly gouache illustrations. Listeners will identify with Nat and friends and respond with tapping toes to the rhyme and the song. The song can be heard and downloaded via a provided URL; Billy and Hugo books (with songs) will follow.

Nat’s sunny smile is hard to resist. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61067-177-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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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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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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