BERNARD GOES TO SCHOOL

The first day of preschool can give even an elephant a case of the shim-shams, as Goodman’s little pachyderm learns. Bernard is ushered into school by his mother, father, and grandma, but surrounded as he is by kith and kin, Bernard isn’t cottoning to the experience. As mother and father oh and ah, Bernard says it’s “time to go home.” Mother, father, and grandma eagerly point out the blocks and costumes and art supplies, and Bernard disappears behind his mother’s ample posterior. Miss Brody—an Old Soul in the finest elephant tradition (if youngish and turquoise)—is Bernard’s teacher, and she gently guides him over to the fish tank to give the fish a snack. While Bernard had firmly resisted his parents’ implorings to get involved, he offers a couple of tentative “maybes” to Miss Brody, not seemingly out of need to gain her favor, but because feeding the fish takes his mind off his worries. Besides, he gets acquainted with a schoolmate at the tank and they join forces to name the fish. Bernard intones “time to go home” once more, though now he means it’s time for his parents to take a powder. Featuring purple, green, and gold elephants, Catalano’s pastels are as soft as the outcome of the story, with Bernard discovering that a friendly face and a new chum go a long way toward taking the dismay out of the new. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-56397-958-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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

MAYBE

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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TEN LITTLE FINGERS AND TEN LITTLE TOES

A pleasing poem that celebrates babies around the world. Whether from a remote village or an urban dwelling, a tent or the snow, Fox notes that each “of these babies, / as everyone knows, / had ten little fingers / and ten little toes.” Repeated in each stanza, the verse establishes an easy rhythm. Oxenbury’s charming illustrations depict infants from a variety of ethnicities wearing clothing that invokes a sense of place. Her pencil drawings, with clean watercolor washes laid in, are sweetly similar to those in her early board books (Clap Hands, 1987, etc.). Each stanza introduces a new pair of babies, and the illustrations cleverly incorporate the children from the previous stanzas onto one page, allowing readers to count not only fingers and toes but also babies. The last stanza switches its focus from two children to one “sweet little child,” and reveals the narrator as that baby’s mother. Little readers will take to the repetition and counting, while parents will be moved by the last spread: a sweet depiction of mother and baby. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-15-206057-2

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2008

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