This darling story that celebrates love, friendship and perseverance is a thoroughgoing delight.

A MOUNTAIN OF FRIENDS

A charming picture book about the lengths friends will go to for one another.

The little penguin protagonist is sad, as while he is a bird, he cannot fly. Thus his wish to “soar above the clouds” is destined to fail, try as he might. But while penguin may not possess the ability to fly, he does have a caring and determined group of animal friends who work to make his dreams a reality. Turning their delightfully expressive gazes outward at readers, penguin’s friends ask them for help (“Yes, you!” exhorts the sign held in elephant’s trunk). A page turn instructs readers to turn the book clockwise and “see what happens,” resulting in a 90-degree change of orientation that has pages turning up-to-down instead of left-to-right. Readers are then made privy to the ways little penguin’s friends endeavor to help him achieve his goal. First, the animals take penguin to a hill...but the clouds are still far away. They then pile stones for penguin to stand on, and when that doesn’t work, they stack themselves in a teetering tower that occupies four vertical double-page spreads, till, finally, the “clouds are not too high.” Although some of the animals in the pileup are previously unintroduced in the story, they appear in the portrait gallery on the rear endpapers.

This darling story that celebrates love, friendship and perseverance is a thoroughgoing delight. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55455-313-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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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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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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