Totally, infectiously ebullient.



A little girl finds out how much she has in common with her new puppy.

A squat brown-skinned tot, with springy brown ringlets—to match her basset hound’s floppy ears—is presented with a new puppy. “I got a new friend,” the narrator declares. Is the girl or the puppy telling this story? It very well could be either. “She’s kind of shy” (both the gal and the pup peer timidly at each other), “…but she got used to me” (now both are all smiles). She can be naughty, messy, even stinky (requisite bathroom scene for storytime giggles), but she always needs lots of kisses. The cheerfully ingenuous text places the two in a comfortable, middle-class setting: there is a yard to play in, an easy chair to plant muddy foot- and pawprints on, and a sturdy yellow bed to jump on. Edwards’ figures have the lovable solidity of Charles Schulz’s, the girl with a round, slightly outsized head and both with infectious smiles. In the end, Edwards seems to clear up all narratorial ambiguity: “She can be a lot of work, but I love her. / She’s my little girl!” (Both the girl and pup are entangled in a hug.) But of course, the puppy could be a girl, too. One will never know—but discussion possibilities abound. A spread of further friendship tips appears on the rear endpapers. The book seems set up to explore a new pet relationship, yet it works on any friendship level and perhaps even a new-sibling introduction.

Totally, infectiously ebullient. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-55700-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations.


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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