This won’t answer those many preschool requests for superhero stories, but it does offer a go-with-the-flow bit of...



A young superhero falls prey to a Samson complex.

Young narrator Rocco, with his frothy mass of curls, is a comic-book fan and, of course, the superhero of his own stories—along with three equally long-haired sidekicks. But when he is hauled off to a scissors-wielding, nearly bald barber, he’s afraid that his superpowers have been compromised. Will a viny plant or maybe a mop head restore them? But his friends all sport new, short haircuts, too, and all the boys feel quite weak until a younger girl needs help: superheroes to the rescue. Artist Rocco’s children are cheerfully compact and kinetic. In a just-right nod to comic-book conventions, the trip to the barber and subsequent illustrations of the boys without superpowers are rendered in grayscale, while the superhero moments take place in colorful, warm hues on a background of comic-book–like Ben-Day dots. Little Rocco’s powers, and those of his friends, don’t exceed reality: jumping homemade ramps on a bike—check; flying by skateboard over (toy) cars and trains—check; leaping from a tall stepladder into a baby pool—uh, no, as the child’s look of dismay indicates. The little girl who creates an occasion for the boys to return to their superhero roles has a wise look of her own—superpowers of observation, perhaps—and may well end up as a sidekick herself.

This won’t answer those many preschool requests for superhero stories, but it does offer a go-with-the-flow bit of imaginative silliness. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-2189-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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

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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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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.


A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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