A tale gently told of finding our inner strengths.

CARLOTA WOULDN'T SAY BOO

From the Somos8 series

Once upon a short time ago, there was a girl named Carlota who had a unique power: everyone understood her just from her gestures and glances.

So this Spanish import’s fair-skinned protagonist never talks—until one day, she needs to. Carlota's power of communicating without talking works when she's hungry; when she's on the playground and doesn't feel like running anymore or wants to play a new game; and even in the classroom when her teacher asks a question. (Like Carlota, her classmates, teacher, and family all present as white.) But one day she accidentally gets locked into the pantry, with only jars, cans, pots, and a broomstick with bristles full of fluff. As Carlota realizes her communication method will not work on these inanimate objects, she must overcome her fear and try something she has never done before: talk! The whimsical, tongue-in-cheek narration asks readers questions (“Are you ready to know?”) and adds little asides (“Yes, I know I have already said this, but...”), making readers feel the story is being told just to them. Urberuaga's simply drawn illustrations, heavily outlined in black and using a richly saturated palette, perfectly complement the charm and humor of the story. Readers will want to watch out for Tom the mouse, Carlota's friend, and his antics while Carlota is locked in the pantry.

A tale gently told of finding our inner strengths. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-84-942929-5-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NubeOcho

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back.

TINY T. REX AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HUG

With such short arms, how can Tiny T. Rex give a sad friend a hug?

Fleck goes for cute in the simple, minimally detailed illustrations, drawing the diminutive theropod with a chubby turquoise body and little nubs for limbs under a massive, squared-off head. Impelled by the sight of stegosaurian buddy Pointy looking glum, little Tiny sets out to attempt the seemingly impossible, a comforting hug. Having made the rounds seeking advice—the dino’s pea-green dad recommends math; purple, New Age aunt offers cucumber juice (“That is disgusting”); red mom tells him that it’s OK not to be able to hug (“You are tiny, but your heart is big!”), and blue and yellow older sibs suggest practice—Tiny takes up the last as the most immediately useful notion. Unfortunately, the “tree” the little reptile tries to hug turns out to be a pterodactyl’s leg. “Now I am falling,” Tiny notes in the consistently self-referential narrative. “I should not have let go.” Fortunately, Tiny lands on Pointy’s head, and the proclamation that though Rexes’ hugs may be tiny, “I will do my very best because you are my very best friend” proves just the mood-lightening ticket. “Thank you, Tiny. That was the biggest hug ever.” Young audiences always find the “clueless grown-ups” trope a knee-slapper, the overall tone never turns preachy, and Tiny’s instinctive kindness definitely puts him at (gentle) odds with the dinky dino star of Bob Shea’s Dinosaur Vs. series.

Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7033-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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