A picture book that celebrates creativity and imagination…and the courage to share them.

READ REVIEW

THE EXTRAORDINARY MR. QWERTY

Imaginative illustrations and spare words present deep themes in this picture book.

Norman Qwerty has ideas that are “far from ordinary.” Afraid people will think them strange, he hides his ideas under his hat and feels completely alone. But when he creates a contraption that brings ideas to life, Mr. Qwerty realizes that he is not alone after all—everyone has ideas. As others use the contraption to manifest and share their ideas, they create a community that both validates and welcomes the creative diversity. (An opportunity is lost to add another layer to the diversity theme by visually portraying more diverse skin shades within the characters; only one looks nonwhite.) Strambini’s detailed black-and-white pencil illustrations are filled with Rube Goldberg–like contraptions that resemble fantastical notebook doodles and are saved from monochromatic overwhelm by judiciously placed spots of color. A red-orange cravat identifies Mr. Qwerty, and the cloud-studded sky-blue scarf drifting through the story draws symbolic attention to the necessity of letting imaginations soar. Visual symbolism abounds, and astute readers, noticing something unusual on the title page, will know to pay close attention going forward. The book’s theme is presented subtly; this is a story that rewards multiple readings with multiple layers of understanding.

A picture book that celebrates creativity and imagination…and the courage to share them. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7324-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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Droll humor that’s sure to elicit guffaws.

PLEASE DON'T EAT ME

A bunny negotiates with a bear to avoid becoming lunch.

Burrowing along happily through the soil, a tiny white rabbit is stopped short by the beauty of a daisy. Unfortunately, a bear steps out from behind a tree at precisely the same moment. There’s no mistaking the bunny’s disappointment at the timing of the situation: “Aw, nuts.” The bear is hungry, so the quick-thinking rabbit proposes ordering a pizza. The pair share a pie, but before the bunny can leave, Bear muses, “It just doesn’t feel like a meal without dessert.” Will the bunny be dessert?! No. A chuckleworthy page turn reveals the two sharing a milkshake with giant twisty straws. Bear has many other ways of delaying the bunny’s departure until finally, the bunny loses patience: “Fine. That’s it! Just eat me already!” Flopped on a bed of greens, the bunny presents itself as a meal. But Bear has another option—perhaps they could be friends instead. The dumpy little rabbit mirrors Bear’s rotund frame; both state their arguments with deadpan precision. However, via tiny adjustments in body language, Climo masterfully includes a ton of expression behind the two protagonists’ tiny dotted eyes. Minimalist cartoon backgrounds keep the focus on the developing relationship.

Droll humor that’s sure to elicit guffaws. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-31525-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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