Graceful text and evocative illustrations combine in this story about the rewards of facing fears and trying something new.

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RABBIT AND THE MOTORBIKE

A fearful rabbit finds the courage to broaden his horizons in this picture book.

Rabbit, anthropomorphically attired in overalls, lives in a wheat field that he never leaves. Instead, he waits for Dog—more sartorially adventurous in a black leather-fringed jacket, appropriate for motorbike travel—to visit and tell him stories of the road. But one day Dog dies, an event touchingly illustrated with an image of Rabbit sitting on his porch steps with drooping ears and drooping flowers. Rabbit is surprised that Dog leaves his motorbike to him, and he stores it away, admitting that he is too scared to use it. Author Hoefler takes a well-used theme and infuses it with a graceful poetic cadence that reads like a firelight tale as she relates how, yes, Rabbit does eventually work up the courage to travel on the motorbike, and yes, does come home again, enriched and changed. Illustrator Jacoby’s smudgy, delicate illustrations depict these changes—both in Rabbit’s appearance and demeanor and in the story’s landscape—with an evocative, textural style that heightens the story’s emotion. One illustration, a double-page spread of a beach from an overhead perspective, is initially disorienting, then exhilarating. The book adroitly combines spot illustrations and double-page spreads to establish and control the story’s elegant, thoughtful pace.

Graceful text and evocative illustrations combine in this story about the rewards of facing fears and trying something new. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7090-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining.

DON'T FORGET DEXTER!

A lost toy goes through an existential crisis.

The setup is on the copyright page. Amid the markers of a universally recognizable waiting room—fish tank, chairs against the wall, receptionist’s window, kids’ coloring table—is a tiny orange T. Rex with a dialogue balloon: “Hello?” A turn of the page brings Dexter T. Rexter into close view, and he explains his dilemma directly to readers. He and his best friend came for a checkup, but Jack’s disappeared. Maybe readers can help? But when Jack is still MIA, Dexter becomes disconsolate, believing his friend might have left him behind on purpose; maybe he likes another toy better? Dexter weighs his good qualities against those he lacks, and he comes up short. But when readers protest (indicated by a change in Dexter’s tone after the turn of the page), Dexter gains the determination he needs to make a plan. Unfortunately, though hilariously, his escape plan fails. But luckily, a just-as-upset black boy comes looking for Dexter, and the two are reunited. Ward’s ink, colored-pencil, and cut-paper illustrations give readers a toy’s view of the world and allow children to stomp in Dexter’s feet for a while, his facial expressions giving them lots of clues to his feelings. Readers will be reminded of both Knuffle Bunny and Scaredy Squirrel, but Dexter is a character all his own.

Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4727-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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