Consider this beautifully designed French import a must-have for any storytime or one-on-one sharing regarding the somewhat...

IN MY HEART

A BOOK OF FEELINGS

From the Growing Hearts series

Vibrant die cuts, whimsical drawings, and a text that explores a wide range of feelings with just the right touches of imagination and wit combine for a most impressive picture-book experience.

Readers will be attracted right away to the rainbow hues of the multilayered die-cut hearts that recede inward from the cover. The device entices readers to turn the page and enter into an exploration of emotion. An expressive girl explains: “My heart is like a house, with all these feelings living inside.” On the facing page, the shape of a house surrounds the interior die-cut hearts. With each page turn, emotions from happiness to sadness, bravery to fear, anger to calm are displayed. Witek expertly utilizes similes to help young readers grasp the concepts; a bright yellow star represents happiness, but a red cross with a bandage on it is emblematic of a broken heart when feelings have been hurt. When the girl’s heart is “silly,” she is “like a bouncy bunny.” At other times her heart is “as heavy as an elephant” or hopeful, “like a plant reaching toward the sky.” As the pages turn, the hearts get smaller and smaller, until the final spread shows a garden with dozens of hearts. Readers are left to answer a question: “How does your heart feel?”

Consider this beautifully designed French import a must-have for any storytime or one-on-one sharing regarding the somewhat sticky subject of feelings. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1310-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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

Our Verdict

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BE YOU!

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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