A gem of a book that encourages kids to toughen up, gently.

GRITTY KITTY

Help toddlers learn to find their true grit with this charming primer on resilience.

This lovely introduction for tots to the value of perseverance and working through adversity is both gentle and persuasive. The lessons are well-stated and clear, making this book both a welcome addition to board-book literature and a great alternative to yelling, “Suck it up!” Gritty Kitty and friends play out a variety of scenarios that could end in tears. Instead of treating each incident like a catastrophe, though, Gritty Kitty demonstrates that there are healthier, easier, and more enjoyable ways to respond to each situation: “Gritty Kitty, stumble and fall, / stand back up—no problem at all! // Build a tower. Blocks tumble down. / Keep trying, look: a purrfect town!” When the blocks fall, of course, Gritty Kitty looks appropriately unhappy but then beams with joy when persistence pays off and the town is complete. Other pint-sized potential crises that Gritty Kitty navigates in an emotionally healthy way include impatience, boredom, trying new food, and fear of the dark (it can be cozy, too). The cartoon illustrations complement the lessons perfectly—each animal character is fully realized and expressive, with plenty of fun detail in each panel.

A gem of a book that encourages kids to toughen up, gently. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-936669-76-9

Page Count: 14

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Wonderful, indeed

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THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU WILL BE

A GROWING-UP POEM

A love song to baby with delightful illustrations to boot.

Sweet but not saccharine and singsong but not forced, Martin’s text is one that will invite rereadings as it affirms parental wishes for children while admirably keeping child readers at its heart. The lines that read “This is the first time / There’s ever been you, / So I wonder what wonderful things / You will do” capture the essence of the picture book and are accompanied by a diverse group of babies and toddlers clad in downright adorable outfits. Other spreads include older kids, too, and pictures expand on the open text to visually interpret the myriad possibilities and hopes for the depicted children. For example, a spread reading “Will you learn how to fly / To find the best view?” shows a bespectacled, school-aged girl on a swing soaring through an empty white background. This is just one spread in which Martin’s fearless embrace of the white of the page serves her well. Throughout the book, she maintains a keen balance of layout choices, and surprising details—zebras on the wallpaper behind a father cradling his child, a rock-’n’-roll band of mice paralleling the children’s own band called “The Missing Teeth”—add visual interest and gentle humor. An ideal title for the baby-shower gift bag and for any nursery bookshelf or lap-sit storytime.

Wonderful, indeed . (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37671-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Light, friendly, and not at all preachy—a gentle win for a kinder world.

ABCS OF KINDNESS

Rhyming couplets use the alphabet to simply explain the abstract concept of kindness.

Each letter of the alphabet stands for a word that adds nuance to the notion while line drawings of pink-cheeked stuffed animals—bear, bunny, elephant, mouse, lion, and giraffe—illustrate the behavior. The verses hint at exactly how to act kindly. Some are concrete: “Ii is for inviting everyone to play.” Some suggest attitudes that facilitate kindness. For example, “Bb is for believing things will be okay in the end!” and “Hh is for hope—tomorrow’s another day!” While many might take issue with the simplistic assertion that “Ee is for everyone—we are all the same,” taken as a whole, the book will lead even the youngest toddlers to the message. Organizationally, the book devotes one page each to 11 letters while 14 others share pages. “Zz is sleeping peacefully when your day of kindness is through” sprawls across a final double-page spread, showing all the animals fast asleep. Creating an ABC book is harder than this makes it look. The true test is what is chosen to represent Q, X, Y, and Z. “Quiet times,” “Yes I can,” and the aforementioned “zzz”s ably rise to the challenge. “Xx is for kisses” is a bit of a stretch but understandable. Pastel backgrounds, uncluttered design, and unforced rhymes keep the focus on the concept.

Light, friendly, and not at all preachy—a gentle win for a kinder world. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-12307-2

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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