Sweet tonic for skittish young listeners.

READ REVIEW

TWO SHY PANDAS

When little ones are very timid, it can take some time to form a friendship.

Panda lives at Number 1 Bamboo Gardens, right next door to Pandora at Number 2. He longs to say, “Please come over and play!” but for some reason, whenever he sees her, he runs away instead. Next door, Pandora isn’t having much fun either. She can’t seesaw by herself, and throwing a ball to nobody makes her sad. Then, one winter’s day, it starts to snow. Panda rushes outside to make some snowballs, which he throws over the fence to Number 2. When Pandora doesn’t respond, Panda gets worried. What if she feels poorly or has gone away? In truth, she’s been inside the whole time, but she has the same worry about Panda. “Two very worried pandas  / Wondered if they might  / Be brave enough to go next door / And say, ‘Are you all right?’ ” They open their doors to check, colliding midway. An instant bond is formed. Together Panda and Pandora build a snowman, bounce up and down on the seesaw, dance on their ice skates and read storybooks. Best of all, they promise to be friends “[f]orever and ever.” Pandas make adorable stand-ins for little children, as Varley’s friendly watercolor illustrations attest.

Sweet tonic for skittish young listeners. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4677-1141-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Andersen Press USA

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations.

I BELIEVE I CAN

Diversity is the face of this picture book designed to inspire confidence in children.

Fans of Byers and Bobo’s I Am Enough (2018) will enjoy this book that comes with a universal message of self-acceptance. A line of children practices ballet at the barre; refreshingly, two of the four are visibly (and adorably) pudgy. Another group tends a couple of raised beds; one of them wears hijab. Two more children coax a trepidatious friend down a steep slide. Further images, of children pretending to be pirates, dragons, mimes, playing superhero and soccer, and cooking, are equally endearing, but unfortunately they don’t add enough heft to set the book apart from other empowerment books for children. Though the illustrations shine, the text remains pedagogic and bland. Clichés abound: “When I believe in myself, there’s simply nothing I can’t do”; “Sometimes I am right, and sometimes I am wrong. / But even when I make mistakes, I learn from them to make me strong.” The inclusion of children with varying abilities, religions, genders, body types, and racial presentations creates an inviting tone that makes the book palatable. It’s hard to argue with the titular sentiment, but this is not the only book of its ilk on the shelf.

Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266713-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Readers are likely to love it to the moon and back.

WILL YOU BE MY FRIEND?

Little Nutbrown Hare ventures out into the wide world and comes back with a new companion in this sequel to Guess How Much I Love You (1994).

Big Nutbrown Hare is too busy, so after asking permission, Little Nutbrown Hare scampers off over the rolling meadow to play by himself. After discovering that neither his shadow nor his reflection make satisfactory playmates (“You’re only another me!”), Little Nutbrown comes to Cloudy Mountain…and meets “Someone real!” It’s a white bunny who introduces herself as Tipps. But a wonderful round of digging and building and chasing about reaches an unexpected end with a game of hide-and-seek, because both hares hide! After waiting a long time to be found, Little Nutbrown Hare hops on home in disappointment, wondering whether he’ll ever see Tipps again. As it turns out, it doesn’t take long to find out, since she has followed him. “Now, where on earth did she come from?” wonders Big Nutbrown. “Her name is Tipps,” Little Nutbrown proudly replies, “and she’s my friend.” Jeram’s spacious, pale-toned, naturalistic outdoor scenes create a properly idyllic setting for this cozy development in a tender child-caregiver relationship—which hasn’t lost a bit of its appealing intimacy in the more than 25 years since its first appearance. As in the first, Big Nutbrown Hare is ungendered, facilitating pleasingly flexible readings.

Readers are likely to love it to the moon and back. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1747-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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