Beautifully pitched tale for kids leaving behind familiar places and moving to new ones.

READ REVIEW

IZZY AND FRANK

Moving away from the island where she’s always lived, a little girl misses everything, especially her best friend.

Izzy loves living on an island in a lighthouse with a “staircase that twirled high into the sky.” Most of all, she loves her sea gull pal, Frank. On “gray-storm-rainy days,” they dig for buried treasure, play hide-and-seek, and draw in the sand. On “blue-sky-sunny days,” they swim with seals and hunt crabs or starfish. “Wild-wind-blowy days” they evade sea monsters and fight pirates. Then Izzy moves to the city, to a small house with “sharp corners” and no sea view. Izzy hates the city. The games other children play seem alien, and she must wear shoes and be quiet. She misses the wind, salt, sand, the lighthouse, the island, and, most of all, Frank. Izzy searches the streets and sky for Frank, and, one morning, he alights on her windowsill, ready to help her reinvent her life. Peppered with sensory images—“wind that whistled and wailed,” “crusty crabs,” and “sparkly, spiky starfish”—the alliterative text invites reading aloud. With its perky palette of aqua and orange, the simple, playful illustrations show Izzy as an exuberant white girl with freckles and unruly red curls who gradually adapts her free-spirited island life with Frank to an urban venue with new, diverse friends.

Beautifully pitched tale for kids leaving behind familiar places and moving to new ones. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-950354-23-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scribble

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Creative, comedic, and carrot-loads of fun.

A IS FOR ANOTHER RABBIT

An obsessed narrator creates an alphabet book overrun with rabbits, much to the chagrin of an owl who wants to create a “proper, respectable” alphabet book.

The picture book begins, “A is for A rabbit,” an illustration of a large brown rabbit taking up most of the recto. The owl protagonist—presumably the co-creator of the book—points out that “rabbit” begins with “R.” “Yes, but “a rabbit” starts with A,” says the narrator, before moving on to “B is for bunny,” which, as the owl points out, is just another name for rabbit. Despite the owl’s mounting frustration, the narrator genially narrates several rabbits into existence on almost every single page, rendered with such variety that readers will find their proliferation endlessly amusing. The letter D, for instance, introduces readers to “delightful, dynamic, daredevil RABBITS!” (a herd of biker rabbits), and although the narrator says “E is for Elephant” (which momentarily satisfies the owl), the image depicts several rabbits poorly disguised as an elephant. Much to the owl’s chagrin and, ultimately, exhaustion, the narrator grows more and more creative in their presentation of their favorite animal as the picture book proceeds down a rabbit hole of…well, rabbits! Batsel’s debut picture book for readers already familiar with the English alphabet is funny and highly entertaining. The whimsical narrative and the colorful images make this an excellent elementary-age read-aloud.

Creative, comedic, and carrot-loads of fun. (Picture book. 4-8)/p>)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2950-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Love can be shared in so many ways; reading this together is a start.

LOLA DUTCH I LOVE YOU SO MUCH

Lola Dutch has many ways of communicating her love to her friends.

When each of her anthropomorphic animal friends starts the day grumpy, Lola (a human girl) knows just what to do, and readers of Gary Chapman’s popular 5 Love Languages books will recognize them. She sews cozy pajamas for chilly Gator (receiving gifts), arranges Crane’s strewn-about books in a “Book Nook” (acts of service), organizes an outing to the park for Pig (quality time), and gives Bear a hug (physical touch). In return, her four friends celebrate just how much they appreciate and love her with a banner and a cake (words of affirmation). The rear copyright page includes a small, easily overlooked paragraph citing the book’s inspiration and asking readers how they feel loved and show love to their friends. No information is given about how to determine which love language to use in different situations or with different people. The loosely outlined illustrations are a delight because of the expressive characters and Lola Dutch’s infectious exuberance. Lola is pale-skinned with a brown pageboy. The dust jacket unfolds to show a party scene, Bear and Crane preprinted on the page. Lola Dutch and Gator are paper dolls that can be cut out along with a loving note to share with someone special. Pig is absent.

Love can be shared in so many ways; reading this together is a start. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0117-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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