A smart, stealth bedtime tale.

BEAR CAN'T SLEEP

From the Bear Books series

A brown bear tries his best to slumber through winter.

Winter has come, and the snow has begun to pile high. Deep in his cave Bear tosses and turns, unable to fall asleep. Mouse arrives to check on his friend’s hibernation and is startled to find Bear still awake. Mouse brews some tea, but when that doesn’t work, Mouse enlists other woodland critters to help get bear to sleep. Lullabies, warm milk, and bedtime tales ensue. Bear and his pals are presented in Chapman’s trademark warm-colored, thin-lined illustrations, which flip-flop between double-page spreads and full-bleed, full-page illustrations opposed by vignettes in ovals. Scenes in Bear’s cozy den, his growing band of animal friends gathered in concern, have a rustic charm; one illustration, in which all the animals “hum,” depicts them with mouths open wide, but it’s so doggone cute readers won’t quibble. The text is composed in rhythmic, rhyming verse, paced to slowly but surely get little readers to feel their eyelids begin to weigh just a little bit more with each turn of the page; the refrain, variations on “And the bear / can’t / sleep!” will have readers chiming in before the final page quotes Bear’s first outing and provides resolution: “but the bear / snores / on!” Many little ones will be ready to turn in afterward as well.

A smart, stealth bedtime tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5973-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

PERFECTLY NORMAN

From the Big Bright Feelings series

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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