Tots will find Fiona a welcome nursery presence.


A photogenic hippo models emotions and behaviors in an undeniably winning board book.

Born six weeks prematurely, Cincinnati Zoo resident Fiona, the baby hippo, required much extra nursing and attention from her human caregivers. Fiona’s growth and progress were meticulously documented, blogged, and reblogged, making her an internet sensation in the process. As fate would have it, there are few things cuter than an underweight baby hippo, making Fiona an ideal candidate for a children’s board book. Fiona’s abundance of personality makes her well-suited to model a range of basic emotions; anthropomorphizing her various grins, yawns, peeks, and bellows comes naturally and easily. The success or failure of this type of book is a direct function of how unambiguously the photographs suggest the feelings indicated by the text. To that end, author and pediatrician Hutton has chosen an exemplary selection of pictures to accompany his simple rhymes: “Hippo happy. / Sometimes sad. // Often silly. / Uh-oh, mad.” Each page offers one photo and one clear concept that should resonate with the board-book audience, providing children with vocabulary for their own emotions and expressions. The steady meter and smooth rhyme scheme are easily retained; with repeated readings children will no doubt anticipate and be able to name familiar states such as “scared,” “proud,” “sleepy,” “shy,” and “hungry,” to name a few.

Tots will find Fiona a welcome nursery presence. (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-936669-65-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A guidebook for taking action against racism.

The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism.

Essential. (author’s note, further reading, glossary, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4521-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.


Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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