A sweet, well-paced tale about a common anxiety.

Darcy loves her bedtime routine.

Every night, she brushes her teeth with strawberry toothpaste right after she gets into her polka dot pajamas. Then her father reads her a picture book while she snuggles with Little Cat, her favorite animal and the hero of her favorite bedtime story. Finally, she falls asleep to the comforting sound of her father doing the dishes. When Darcy and her dad go to cousin Kayla’s house, the two girls have so much fun that Kayla asks if Darcy can sleep over. Darcy says yes, but it’s her first time sleeping away from home, and everything is just a little bit different. The nightgown she borrows from Kayla is scratchy, and the toothpaste is peppermint. The house is full of strange, new sounds. In this strange new place, will she ever be able to fall asleep? This gentle story is full of specific details that are both lyrical and comforting in their familiarity. Darcy’s conflicting feelings about her first sleepover feel authentic and are recognizable. In the end, Darcy is the one who solves her own problem, thereby modeling actions that children can take to soothe themselves. The illustrations use a cool palette and smudged lines that make the text feel intimate and cozy. Darcy, her dad, and her aunt all have brown skin and black hair; Kayla has pale skin and red hair.

A sweet, well-paced tale about a common anxiety. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-75590-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021


Sentimental but effective.

A book aimed at easing separation anxiety and reinforcing bonds.

Twins Liza and Jeremy awaken during a thunderstorm and go to their mother for comfort. She reassures them that they’re safe and says, “You know we’re always together, no matter what,” when they object to returning to bed. She then explains that when she was a child her mother told her about the titular “Invisible String,” encouraging them to envision it as a link between them no matter what. “People who love each other are always connected by a very special String made of love,” she tells them, reinforcing this idea as they proceed to imagine various scenarios, fantastic and otherwise, that might cause them to be separated in body. She also affirms that this string can “reach all the way to Uncle Brian in heaven” and that it doesn’t go away if she’s angry with them or when they have conflicts. As they go to bed, reassured, the children, who present white, imagine their friends and diverse people around the world connected with invisible strings, promoting a vision of global unity and empathy. While the writing often feels labored and needlessly repetitive, Lew-Vriethoff’s playful cartoon art enhances and lightens the message-driven text, which was originally published in 2000 with illustrations by Geoff Stevenson.

Sentimental but effective. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-48623-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018


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. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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