The heavy-hoofed message stomps any legitimate sense of serenity.

FIELD OF PEACE

An egotistical giraffe pitcher ultimately strikes out when his competitive spirit places his own self-interest above his teammate.

Boyd dominates baseball games with his athletic pitches, but his supportive teammate Arnold Armadillo's natural instinct to retreat for cover whenever the ball draws near starts a losing streak. Boyd faces a moral and spiritual dilemma after he scares the skunk groundskeeper (causing quite the stink) and fails to communicate the change in practice location to his uncoordinated friend. Boyd's ego initially overrides his conscience, but Coach's biblical lecture quickly sets him straight. Boyd welcomes Arnold back to the fold, and the armadillo clinches the score, though whether by chance or God's intercession remains unclear. The narrative's unlikely outcome, in which winning remains the reward, seems to stunt the characters' growing humility. The bland illustrations seek to project humor in the details. Boyd wears a clothespin to stifle the skunk's fumes, for instance. Unbelievable, earnest dialogue expresses Boyd's beliefs: “Thank you, God, for a great game!” Coach's redirection fails in both subtlety and developmental appropriateness in one fell swoop. “Well, I know a great umpire that will help you make good decisions in life. That umpire's name is PEACE.” Boyd's immediate change of heart fails to address the realistic complexities of Christians' walk in faith.

The heavy-hoofed message stomps any legitimate sense of serenity. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-310-72318-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious...

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS MOTHER'S DAY BLESSINGS

From the Berenstain Bears series

The Berenstains’ son adds a Mother’s Day entry to the series, continuing the adventures of the Bear family with a religious focus.

Brother, Sister, and Honey want to do something special for Mama for Mother’s Day, and Papa helps them think of just the thing—brunch at the Bear Country Inn after church—and they can invite Grizzly Gran, too. On the ride to church, Mama points out all the ways other families are celebrating their own mothers even though these community helpers are working on the holiday: Officer Marguerite’s children bring her flowers as she directs traffic, and Mrs. Ben’s children are pitching in with farm chores. Indeed, the trip to church is eye-opening for the cubs, who never realized that some of their neighbors even had children. During the church service, Preacher Brown thanks God for the gift of mothers and quotes the Bible: “Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches.” While the illustrations are the same as ever (the smiling bears haven’t aged a bit!), the series seems to have moved away from addressing a variety of families.

This Mother’s Day tale is rather limited in its audience to those who can afford fancy brunch after their own religious services, contrary to its apparent message that being together is all that matters. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-310-74869-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for.

THANKFUL

Spinelli lists many things for which people are thankful.

The pictures tell a pleasing counterpoint to this deceptively simple rhyme. It begins “The waitress is thankful for comfortable shoes. / The local reporter, for interesting news.” The pictures show a little girl playing waitress to her brother, who playacts the reporter. The news gets interesting when the girl trips over the (omnipresent) cat. As the poem continues, the Caucasian children and their parents embody all the different roles and occupations it mentions. The poet is thankful for rhyme and the artist, for light and color, although the girl dancer is not particularly pleased with her brother’s painterly rendition of her visual art. The cozy hotel for the traveler is a tent for the siblings in the backyard, and the grateful chef is their father in the kitchen. Even the pastor (the only character mentioned who is not a family member) is grateful, as he is presented with a posy from the girl, for “God’s loving word.” The line is squiggly and energetic, with pastel color and figures that float over white space or have whole rooms or gardens to roam in. Both children, grateful for morning stories, appear in a double-page spread surrounded by books and stuffed toys as their mother reads to them—an image that begs to be a poster.

Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-310-00088-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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