Like Jerome’s, its heart is in the right place.

HOW TO GROW HAPPINESS

From the Jerome the Gnome series , Vol. 1

With the help of his forest friends, gnome Jerome learns a valuable lesson about happiness—or maybe gardening.

A bright yellow bird named Warble flies through the Garden of Wonder, landing in Jerome’s open window. Warble offers Jerome a “tiny black seed” that she calls “the seed of happiness.” Jerome offers a piece of bright red yarn—the “perfect” thing for Warble’s nest!—in exchange. When the seed doesn’t do anything, however, Jerome worries that it may be broken. Friends Beamer the robot and Nutilda the squirrel suggest sunlight, and Sir Surly the turtle prompts Jerome to toss the seed into the pond for water. It takes Sherwin Wigglesworth, a jaunty worm with a monocle, to show Jerome how to plant his seed. Jerome and friends are impatient for the seed to grow, until Glinda, the butterfly fairy (who just happens to be fluttering by), points out the missing ingredient: love. “The best things always grow from love.” Jerome nurtures his seed with water, food, love, and some of his favorite things placed all around. It grows into a giant green watermelon that everyone can share. Though it doesn’t really hang together logically, DiPucchio’s story captures an innocence in tune with the very young. Kaufenberg’s illustrations are appropriately bright and cute, depicting Jerome as a white garden gnome with a pointy red cap.

Like Jerome’s, its heart is in the right place. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63565-140-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

PERFECTLY NORMAN

From the Big Bright Feelings series

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A sweet, poetic ode to autumn.

IF YOU FIND A LEAF

A rhyming celebration of imagination.

A child with brown skin offers gentle, artful ideas about what to do with autumn leaves. The picture book's idyllic setting seems Northeastern in nature, with deciduous trees shedding leaves, which the child scoops up. Could a leaf from a tree become a hat, a Halloween mask, a hammock, or something else entirely? "It could be a horn that blows, announcing that we're here. // A leafy parade to celebrate our favorite time of year." Rhyme rules the text but isn't forced in the least. Collaged leaves against painted illustrations encourage play and imagination. A nod to winter and spring make this a year-round read. Endpapers with realistic labeled images of leaves provide an injection of information in this otherwise dreamy musing. The backmatter includes instructions on collaging—a meaningful and fun activity that builds upon the text. While there's nothing groundbreaking here, there is opportunity for both learning and whimsy. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet, poetic ode to autumn. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30659-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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