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

READ REVIEW

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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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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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

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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