Flawd but makes a point about fun with fonicks.


What’s in a name? How do you spell it?

Brown-skinned Phoebe and her classmates, evidently kindergarteners, are practicing writing their names. Noticing how Mama sewed the name on her backpack, Phoebe realizes it isn’t spelled phonetically, despite a teacher’s instruction to “just sound it out.” Studying the alphabet chart, Phoebe recognizes that F makes the initial sound of her name. So she writes, sounding out as she goes, until the final result: Feeby, which is praised as “a great start.” New spellers will relate to Phoebe’s dilemma, but there are glaring logical lapses here. First, Phoebe spies her name on the backpack before her teacher asks her to “sound it out.” If the kids are simply practicing writing their names, wouldn’t she copy Mama’s version instead of believing that Mama got it wrong? Moreover, many children entering school know how to spell their names, which they’re likely not encouraged to spell phonetically. Finally, are teachers really so nonchalant when students misspell their names? Still, there’s a lesson here for kids wading into the vagaries of English spelling, and it’s reassuring that mistakes are forgiven. The flat, cheerful, cartoony illustrations depict racially diverse students and adults (in addition to Phoebe, her mom, some of the children, and one of the teachers have brown skin); a girl is shown in a wheelchair, and a wall chart features Braille.

Flawd but makes a point about fun with fonicks. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77147-164-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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WOO-HOO! This is the perfect way to foster healthy self-esteem in little ones.


What’s better than a cheerleading chicken?

Are you ever blue, unsure, tired, or overworked? Do you ever feel lost or overwhelmed? This uplifting book, expressed in delightful, jaunty verse, explains how to lift your spirits pronto: What you need is a booster chicken telling you’re doing great even when you’re not so confident, as when you’re learning or practicing a new skill, for instance. Your feathered champion will be right there, encouraging you all the way, with a loud “WOO HOO!” that’ll keep you going and remove any doubt you’re super terrific. But what if your cheerful chick errs and doesn’t do what it set out to do? Don’t worry—your cheery chicken just needs a reminder that everyone makes mistakes. That alone is a pep talk, enhanced by the wisdom that making mistakes allows everyone to learn and demonstrate they did their best. So forgive yourself, chickens! But the best thing is…instead of relying on someone else—like a chicken—to strengthen your ego, say a generous daily “WOO HOO!” to yourself. This riotous book hits all the right notes and does so succinctly and hilariously. The energetic, comical illustrations, in Boynton’s signature style, will elicit giggles and go far to make the book’s important point. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

WOO-HOO! This is the perfect way to foster healthy self-esteem in little ones. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-316-48679-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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