Delightful—especially appealing for young readers who have or wish for a puppy.

FIRST FRIEND

HOW DOGS EVOLVED FROM WOLVES TO BECOME OUR BEST FRIENDS

A lyrical exploration of how wolves evolved into dogs.

Thousands of years ago, humans and wolves competed for prey, but gradually some wolves evolved to become the companions of humans. This picture book uses a simple repeating narrative theme to effectively present this evolution. A Stone Age girl meets a wolf pup, and they become friends, but the pup stays with its wolf family as it grows because “everyone knew girls and wolves could not be friends.” Moving forward “years and years” ahead, a boy, now living in a hut of “branches and hides” befriends a wolf pup. Their friendship is closer, but still they separate as they grow. This scenario is repeated twice more, each scenario advancing the evolutionary time frame while cleverly underscoring the enduring constancy of the child-puppy attraction—an attraction that is delightfully played out in the story’s conclusion as well as the wonderful endpapers. The colorful, uncomplicated illustrations follow a pattern in their design that echoes the comfortable rhythm of the narrative—but these are no stodgy presentations. The confident use of light as both definitive highlights and atmosphere gives them a bright, clear, and uplifting buoyancy. A more detailed explanation of the science and history of the wolf-to-dog evolution and a bibliography are contained in the backmatter. All human characters are illustrated with light brown skin and black hair. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 33% of actual size.)

Delightful—especially appealing for young readers who have or wish for a puppy. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-31343-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A useful primer for socioemotional growth.

I AM OKAY TO FEEL

Queer Eye star Karamo Brown and his son Jason “Rachel” Brown affirm that all feelings—even negative ones—are OK.

A round-faced boy with brown skin, big brown eyes, and a bright smile walks outside, talking with his dad about feelings. With the son’s speech printed in blue and Dad’s in black, the boy announces that he’s happy and shows it by jumping and spinning while Dad dances. The book’s palette, which often reflects the boy’s emotional state, shifts drastically when a thunderstorm blows in as the sky swirls with patterns in deep blue and purple, and a thick yellow lightning bolt blasts through—a dramatic scene that represents the boy’s perception of the turbulent weather as he sits on the ground crying, hugging his knees. Dad assures him that it’s all right to feel and express fear and helps him calm these negative emotions by encouraging him to stretch and breathe deeply. While the book’s lesson is conveyed in a slightly heavy-handed manner, it’s a good message, and readers will appreciate seeing a story that centers a Black father and son dispelling the stereotype that men and boys—especially those of color—don’t or shouldn’t express emotions. The backmatter includes an emotion wheel with the boy showing a range of facial expressions, accompanied by activities and questions. The acronym “FEEL OKAY” offers opportunities to practice discussing emotions. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A useful primer for socioemotional growth. (authors’ note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-63893-010-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Zando

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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A good choice for a late fall storytime.

SNACK, SNOOZE, SKEDADDLE

HOW ANIMALS GET READY FOR WINTER

Animal behaviors change as they prepare to face the winter.

Migrate, hibernate, or tolerate. With smooth rhymes and jaunty illustrations, Salas and Gévry introduce three strategies animals use for coping with winter cold. The author’s long experience in imparting information to young readers is evident in her selection of familiar animals and in her presentation. Spread by spread she introduces her examples, preparing in fall and surviving in winter. She describes two types of migration: Hummingbirds and monarchs fly, and blue whales travel to the warmth of the south; earthworms burrow deeper into the earth. Without using technical words, she introduces four forms of hibernation—chipmunks nap and snack; bears mainly sleep; Northern wood frogs become an “icy pop,” frozen until spring; and normally solitary garter snakes snuggle together in huge masses. Those who can tolerate the winter still change behavior. Mice store food and travel in tunnels under the snow; moose grow a warmer kind of fur; the red fox dives into the snow to catch small mammals (like those mice); and humans put on warm clothes and play. The animals in the soft pastel illustrations are recognizable, more cuddly than realistic, and quite appealing; their habitats are stylized. The humans represent varied ethnicities. Each page includes two levels of text, and there’s further information in the extensive backmatter. Pair with Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen’s Winter Bees (2014).

A good choice for a late fall storytime. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2900-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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