A smart, stealth bedtime tale.

READ REVIEW

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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Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations.

I BELIEVE I CAN

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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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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