PAPA'S SONG

A bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Baby Bear turns the Bear household topsy-turvy until Papa Bear’s ingenious idea saves the night. When Baby Bear is still wide-awake at bedtime, various family members attempt to settle the little one down to sleep. Granny Bear sings a tender lullaby in the rocking chair and Grandpa Bear serenades the baby by a moonlit window, to no avail. Even Mama Bear’s song fails to send Baby Bear off to dream land. Papa Bear knows just what baby needs, taking Baby Bear out onto the river for a moonlight ride. Eloquent text describes the night sounds; “ Riffles slap the side of the bear boat, slup, slup, slup. Three little fish wriggle by and disappear beneath the water, bloop, bloop, blip.” The soothing litany of night sounds soon lulls the little one to sleep. Kate McMullan’s (Noel the First, 1996) gentle prose settles over readers like a warm, comforting blanket. Jim McMullan’s (The Earth is Good, 1999) softly shaded and slightly blurred illustrations convey the amber hued-warmth of the home and the serene beauty of twilight on the water. His glowing watercolors reflect the deep love the family has for their cherished baby. A cozy read aloud, young children will find it hard to resist the soporific spell of this perfect bedtime story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 5, 2000

ISBN: 0-374-35732-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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