A sweetly anthropomorphic Rhino family learns to appreciate their child’s unique interests through surprising support from an unexpected source. Bud Sweet-William is a mystery to his staid parents. They are “proper, sensible” and preternaturally neat. Bud has adored dirt since he was a toddler. While they prefer tidy silk flower arrangements and counsel Bud to color inside the lines, the ebullient Bud likes to “cut loose” when he paints. He is happiest digging, composting, and growing a backyard garden and reveling in the growing jungle of indoor plants that are rapidly over-running his room. Carefully cultivated family equilibrium is soon threatened by a visit from Bud’s paternal grandfather—a neatnick of the first order. How to keep Grandfather away from and unaware of Bud’s gardening? Upon arrival, Grandfather takes charge. He gives the house a thorough cleaning and reorganizing (even the canned goods in alphabetical order). A violent overnight thunderstorm wreaks havoc in Bud’s garden. When grandfather and grandson survey the remains the next morning, Bud learns that far from being dismayed, Grandfather is instead impressed with the garden and organizes its cleanup. Author-illustrator O’Malley’s (Leo Cockroach . . . Toy Tester, not reviewed, etc.) well-sized, sweet-natured, cartoony watercolors are full of the right kid pleasing details that add to the low-key fun. A delightful springboard for budding gardeners and an opportunity to share their enthusiasm with family and friends. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8027-8718-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids.


Little girls are given encouragement and assurance so they can meet the challenges of life as they move through the big, wide world.

Delicately soft watercolor-style art depicts naturalistic scenes with a diverse quintet of little girls portraying potential situations they will encounter, as noted by a narrative heavily dependent on a series of clichés. “The stars are high, and you can reach them,” it promises as three of the girls chase fireflies under a star-filled night sky. “Oceans run deep, and you will learn to swim,” it intones as one girl treads water and another leans over the edge of a boat to observe life on the ocean floor. “Your feet will take many steps, my brave little girl. / Let your heart lead the way.” Girls gingerly step across a brook before making their way through a meadow. The point of all these nebulous metaphors seems to be to inculcate in girls the independence, strength, and confidence they’ll need to succeed in their pursuits. Trying new things, such as foods, is a “delicious new adventure.” Though the quiet, gentle text is filled with uplifting words that parents will intuitively relate to or comprehend, the esoteric messages may be a bit sentimental and ambiguous for kids to understand or even connect to. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30072-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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