A heavy-handed, already-dated attempt to explain a well-documented experience

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FELIX'S NEW SKIRT

If you didn’t know by now that boys sometimes wear skirts, this picture book will explain that again.

Felix likes wearing skirts. After all, “I can run faster and climb more easily.” But not everyone is comfortable with his choice. The plot is so well-worn that it hardly warrants description: First he wants to wear skirts, then people are mean to him. The plodding, artless text follows Felix as he goes from victimization to grudging acceptance. “Real boys don’t wear dresses. Why don’t you go play with someone else…,” say his classmates. And “ ‘That’s inappropriate,’ the other parents whispered to each other. ‘What kind of parent allows his child to do something like that?’ ” Then his dad decides to wear a skirt, too, and Felix feels better about going back to school. The story concludes with “From that day on no one asked if he was a boy or a girl. They simply called him Felix,” an apparent (and misguided) attempt at supporting a boy who seems clear enough about his gender identity. The art is strangely retro, depicting very little outside of characters’ expressions of joy, sadness, or discomfort, and the text doesn’t utilize structure or pacing to lend interest or artistry to the story. Felix is a white boy, as are most of the other people depicted, though one classmate wears hijab.

A heavy-handed, already-dated attempt to explain a well-documented experience . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-988-8341-58-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Minedition

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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