It won’t take forever for kids to return to this one.

HOW LONG IS FOREVER?

Forever is a long time to wait.

Mason grumbles that waiting for Nana’s blueberry pie “is taking forever.” Amused—and eager to distract his grandson—Grandpa asks Mason if he knows how long forever is. Has Grandpa owned his tractor forever? Did it take forever for Nana’s roses to grow up to the chimney? Is it as long as water “has been racing down the stream”? Forever must be as long as “the great elm tree has been here.” Nope, says Grandpa, but waiting’s over; pie’s ready! After devouring a slice, Mason declares it was worth the wait. Now, his understanding is clearer. Forever, he asserts, is how long he’ll love Nana’s pie. Even better—it’s how long he’ll love Grandpa and Nana. This simple story sweetly portrays a realistic, loving relationship. Listeners on laps or in group settings will eagerly volunteer examples of how long forever is and when they had to wait for desired things. Commendably, the tale helps youngsters approach an abstract math concept—time—concretely and creatively. The watercolor-and–colored pencil illustrations are warm and expressive, depicting lush backgrounds. Mason has light-brown skin; his grandparents’ skin is pale. Grandpa has stark white hair and white facial hair; Nana looks less stereotypical, with a blonde bob and red specs. The author provides a link to some luscious recipes.

It won’t take forever for kids to return to this one. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-58089-578-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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