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An earnest kids’ story that aims to build resilience and optimism in young readers.

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Cooper’s debut illustrated picture book explores the changes and adjustments that families have had to manage during enforced separations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the story opens, a young, unnamed, apparently preschool-aged reptile misses his grandpa, a dog. He begins to wonder not only where his grandparent is, but also what he’s doing and who’s helping him without his close family members around, like they used to be. The compassionate boy, who lives in a comfortable suburban setting with two parents and plenty of toys, has several worries and concerns about Grandpa; for instance, without assistance, how will grandpa keep his house clean, locate his glasses, or do his laundry? DeWitt’s detailed illustrations begin as black-and-white line drawings but soon include full-color images that show the child playing with Grandpa at his house—flashbacks that effectively demonstrate the closeness of their relationship. In these scenes, readers see an energetic, involved grandparent who builds construction sets, plays make-believe, and is just about the best playmate any young reader could hope for. Over the course of this book, the text is rather limited apart from somewhat overly explanatory pedagogic moments from the child’s mother (a raccoon) and father (a dog) who put positive spins on isolation: “Until this virus and its variants are truly subdued, we take up projects we’ve been meaning to get to. We think about things we don’t usually have time for. I’ll bet that Grandpa has found interesting things to do.”

An earnest kids’ story that aims to build resilience and optimism in young readers.

Pub Date: June 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-03-912148-5

Page Count: 72

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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