Thoroughly entertaining and probably useful.

READ REVIEW

BRAVE AS CAN BE

A BOOK OF COURAGE

From the Growing Hearts series

Throughout the large, sturdy, die-cut pages, a little girl talks about her fears and how she copes with them.

Following In My Heart (2015), Witek and Roussey have again produced text and art that deal with children’s emotions without sentiment, condescension, or oversimplification—and with humor. The pen-drawn girl gazes at a greenish mound that spills over the gutter to where she stands on the verso as she confesses, “When I was little, I was afraid of everything! Little creaks and squeaks and booming thunderclaps. Teeny creepy-crawlies and monstrous, pointy fangs. I had a pile of fears as big as a mountain.” The next double-page spread, sporting a comical, blue-furred, monster-ish being, describes the icy feeling that often accompanies fear; its yawning mouth is a circular cutout that leads to the next spread. On it, the girl mentions fear of the dark, this time also explaining what helps her: “a bright night-light and my superpowered pajamas, which are 100 percent danger-proof.” On each successive double-page spread, the girl describes one fear and then explains her coping mechanism, always aided by enormously amusing art, plus the bonus of punched-out holes. There’s even a child-friendly version of the imagine-your-audience-nude advice sometimes given to timorous adults, as the girl imagines her angry teacher as an owl: “Imagining her feathers makes me feel brave.” The book also affirms the fact that sometimes it’s fun to scare and be scared, as at Halloween.

Thoroughly entertaining and probably useful. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1923-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining.

DON'T FORGET DEXTER!

A lost toy goes through an existential crisis.

The setup is on the copyright page. Amid the markers of a universally recognizable waiting room—fish tank, chairs against the wall, receptionist’s window, kids’ coloring table—is a tiny orange T. Rex with a dialogue balloon: “Hello?” A turn of the page brings Dexter T. Rexter into close view, and he explains his dilemma directly to readers. He and his best friend came for a checkup, but Jack’s disappeared. Maybe readers can help? But when Jack is still MIA, Dexter becomes disconsolate, believing his friend might have left him behind on purpose; maybe he likes another toy better? Dexter weighs his good qualities against those he lacks, and he comes up short. But when readers protest (indicated by a change in Dexter’s tone after the turn of the page), Dexter gains the determination he needs to make a plan. Unfortunately, though hilariously, his escape plan fails. But luckily, a just-as-upset black boy comes looking for Dexter, and the two are reunited. Ward’s ink, colored-pencil, and cut-paper illustrations give readers a toy’s view of the world and allow children to stomp in Dexter’s feet for a while, his facial expressions giving them lots of clues to his feelings. Readers will be reminded of both Knuffle Bunny and Scaredy Squirrel, but Dexter is a character all his own.

Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4727-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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