British author/illustrator Newton (Where Are My Chicks, 2002, etc.) makes a splash in this tale about fitting in without fitting the mold. “Bored, bored, bored!” says Claude the shark. But his seafaring friends can’t quite believe it. “How can you possibly be bored when there’s so much gardening to do?” they ask. Thickly applied, textured portraits in tropical tones of lemon yellow, plum purple, and seaweed green reflect the underwater activity: first the sea creatures rake, then they prune and plant. Claude reluctantly joins in but abruptly leaves when it’s time to water the flowers. Somehow, he must sense the absurdity: “ ‘No!’ [snaps] Claude. ‘I’m bored and I’m going home.’ ” But for his friends, the blooming garden—with a manicured hedge and a fountain shaped like a fish—is a cause for celebration. Newton’s busy full-bleed portrait pictures the oceanic event. Meanwhile, Claude stays home sulking. That is, until he figures out a way to join in the fun by baking a magnificent cake to give as a gift. “ ‘You made this?’ they ask in admiration. ‘It must have taken ages!’ ‘It was no trouble,’ Claude responds. ‘I enjoyed doing it.’ ” So snack-maker he’ll be while the others garden. Newton’s dry humor will appeal to parents and teachers eager to teach a lesson and squelch a familiar lament; young readers will soak it up like a sponge. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-58234-760-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2002

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Today Carmelita visits her Abuela Rosa, but to get there she must walk. Down Ninth Avenue she strolls with her mother and dog. Colorful shops and congenial neighbors greet them along the way, and at each stop Carmelita says hello—in Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew and more. With a friendly “Jambo” for Joseph, a “Bonjour” at the bakery and an affectionate “Hey” for Max and Angel, the pig-tailed girl happily exercises her burgeoning multilingual skills. Her world is a vibrant community, where neighborliness, camaraderie and culture are celebrated. Isadora’s collaged artwork, reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats, contains lovely edges and imperfections, which abet the feeling of an urban environment. Skillfully, she draws with her scissors, the cut-paper elements acting as her line work. Everything has a texture and surface, and with almost no solid colors, the city street is realized as a real, organic place. Readers will fall for the sociable Carmelita as they proudly learn a range of salutations, and the artist’s rich environment, packed with hidden details and charming animals, will delight readers with each return visit. Simply enchanting. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-399-25230-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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