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FIRST VALENTINE

A Valentine’s Day review of shapes and a reminder that the perfect heart is the one full of love.

Valentine’s Day is all about hearts, but in this tale, some other shapes sneak in, too.

A “little friend” opens a valentine kit and, with moral support from their pet dog, attempts to make a heart-shaped valentine. But creating a heart is not as easy as it seems, and the child’s snipping and paper trimming ultimately result in a circle, a square, a rectangle, a triangle, and a star—and an ideal opportunity to review basic shapes. All the protagonist has to show for their work is a lot of frustration and a “great, big mess”—until they look at the shapes they’ve thrown on the floor. When the child adds glitter, ribbons, and some glue, the shapes come together to make a lovely piece of art and a valentine that’s “full of heart,” and the little one and their parents embrace—the perfect way to cap a family’s love-filled Valentine’s Day. At first, rhyming stanzas point readers toward the child’s goal of creating a heart, but page turns reveal a different shape. The rhyme in later stanzas provides clues and encourages listeners to guess the new shape. The little friend and their parents have dark brown skin. Featuring an adorable, wide-eyed tyke and plenty of pink and red, the illustrations capture the child’s diligent efforts at creating a heart and their emotional reaction to each seemingly failed—but ultimately successful—attempt. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A Valentine’s Day review of shapes and a reminder that the perfect heart is the one full of love. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-80393-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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RUBY FINDS A WORRY

From the Big Bright Feelings series

A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their...

Ruby is an adventurous and happy child until the day she discovers a Worry.

Ruby barely sees the Worry—depicted as a blob of yellow with a frowny unibrow—at first, but as it hovers, the more she notices it and the larger it grows. The longer Ruby is affected by this Worry, the fewer colors appear on the page. Though she tries not to pay attention to the Worry, which no one else can see, ignoring it prevents her from enjoying the things that she once loved. Her constant anxiety about the Worry causes the bright yellow blob to crowd Ruby’s everyday life, which by this point is nearly all washes of gray and white. But at the playground, Ruby sees a boy sitting on a bench with a growing sky-blue Worry of his own. When she invites the boy to talk, his Worry begins to shrink—and when Ruby talks about her own Worry, it also grows smaller. By the book’s conclusion, Ruby learns to control her Worry by talking about what worries her, a priceless lesson for any child—or adult—conveyed in a beautifully child-friendly manner. Ruby presents black, with hair in cornrows and two big afro-puff pigtails, while the boy has pale skin and spiky black hair.

A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their feelings (. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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