A philosophical, kid-friendly take on the rewards of being present.


A girl explores her relationships with the past and the present in Davis-Gibbon’s picture book.

A kid introduces readers to a faceless figure named Then, an “old friend” whom she has known “as long as I can remember.” Then is gray and shadowy and has the same shape as the unnamed main character. The youngster, who is White, recounts her times with Then, who is very demanding, has an active imagination, and can be a braggart. When Then’s presence impacts her ability to pay attention to others and enjoy her favorite things, she makes a new friend named Now, a girl-shaped being with a colorful paint-splotched appearance. Now is supportive, caring, and fun. She also accepts the girl’s ongoing relationship with Then. The girl explains how Then “is the perfect friend” when “I feel like a story,” which Now also embraces because she “likes stories” as well. Ostensibly, this indicates a healthy ability to revisit the past without letting it overshadow the present. Davis-Gibbon’s creative personifications of the past and the present here will enable readers to reflect on how “Then” and “Now” impact their own lives. The protagonist’s constructive realizations underscore the importance of integrating our past and present selves. Daigle’s lively illustrations depict Then and Now throughout the girl’s life. Settings, evocatively portrayed, include outdoor locations with sun-dappled skies, mountains, and waters with splashes of color and texture.

A philosophical, kid-friendly take on the rewards of being present.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73795-760-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Riverlet Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.


A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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