This story makes “Virtue is its own reward” seem original and kind of a blast.

NOT YETI

This may not be the best picture book for Billy Joel or John Milton.

Milton was accused of belonging to the devil’s party because Satan gets all the best scenes in Paradise Lost. Joel has famously sung that “Only the Good Die Young.” But the goody-two-shoes yeti in this story is much more fun than all the other monsters. Yeti “crochets sweaters for penguins,” the text informs readers. He cheers on newborn sea turtles as they’re scuttling toward the ocean. He tells knock-knock jokes to the trees (“Yew who?”). The nastier monsters kick sand and TP the babysitter, which isn’t terribly original. Even when Yeti brings them warm banana bread, they’re inclined to stuff it up their nostrils. OK, that does look fun, if not very tasty. Yeti’s community service is so entertaining that the jokes in the text feel almost redundant, which is good, because they’re very low-key. When Yeti is described as “abominable,” the reference is so subtle that some readers may not get it till their second or third trip through the book. The pictures are also low-key, in the sense that the monsters come in pastel colors. They look almost dashed-off, but the character designs are imaginative enough that one monster has 16 ears. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80.8% of actual size.)

This story makes “Virtue is its own reward” seem original and kind of a blast. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11407-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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