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A young bird, warm and lively, can’t bear kissing.

Rissy is a solid, roundish, colorful lovebird with three siblings, one mother, and one father who are all also lovebirds. They’re an affectionate bunch, as are their friends and relatives. Rissy’s on board for holding wings, “sky-high hugs,” tumbling, and roughhousing, but she can’t bear kisses (giving or receiving). She heads them off admirably—“ ‘No kissies!’ Rissy chirrup[s] with a most emphatic squeak”—but it’s stressful for her. Miss Bluebird accuses her of confusion, Grandma Lovebird of rudeness; schoolmates “think Rissy’s being mean.” Why? “We know lovebirds all love kisses,” they parrot. “ ‘Am I mean, Mom?’ Rissy wondered, / ‘or confused or rude or sick? / Are you certain I’m a lovebird? / Are you sure that I’m your chick? // Kissies make my tummy icky. / I feel worried, weird, and wrong. // If I can’t show love with kissies, / then I’ll never quite belong.’ ” Mom’s bolstering of Rissy’s boundaries and reassurance that she’s a lovebird family member are cheerworthy; now Rissy can explain her preferences more fully, with greater assurance than before, secure in her family and identity. Howes’ rhyming verse is both rollicking and steady, which offsets Rissy’s vulnerability without undermining it. Engle’s wonderfully stocky lovebirds are multicolored, with watercolor hue gradations and expressive beak shapes. This is an artistic gem for consent discussions, sensory-processing contexts, and anyone who champions children’s agency and bodily autonomy.

Radiant. (note to kids; note to caregivers) (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-9798-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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