SEBASTIAN’S ROLLER SKATES

In this story about the power of self-confidence, Sebastian is a reserved boy to the point of stifling shyness. He lives within his thoughts, unable to express himself to others, though full of fascinating ideas. When an abandoned pair of roller skates piques his interest, he tries to learn to skate with a quiet determination. Alas, his fear of falling down and failing prevents him from becoming proficient. An impromptu rescue of a runaway dog provides the impetus he needs to use his new skills on skates—instilling him with confidence and unleashing his self-restraint. Rovira skillfully conveys the changing tenor of Sebastian’s moods in a distinctive manner: The illustrations are primarily full-bleed watercolor and ink; however, he uses his collages to indicate Sebastian’s internal thoughts. At first, the collages consist of monochromatic ripped pieces of paper, full of detail, but in blacks and grays. As Sebastian overcomes his reticence, the collages increase in clarity and vibrancy until tale’s end where they become a torrent of joyful, brightly colored images. Sebastian’s triumph provides inspiration for timid readers to seek out their own strengths. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-929132-81-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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ROOM ON THE BROOM

Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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