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Full of layers to peel back, consider, and discuss.

A mysterious creature befriends a young girl and leads her to a magical realm in this curious but comforting first-person tale.

On her way home through a pleasant Japanese neighborhood, a bob-haired Japanese girl’s curiosity is piqued by a silent, black, kodamalike creature which only she can see. First, she spots the creature patiently awaiting the bus, then she spies it sitting among the bonsai of a sidewalk plant stall. So, she follows it down an alley, under a fence, through a Japanese-style garden and into a traditional Japanese minka house, where the two drink tea. Beckoned further, the child enters a dark closet and is led through an attic door to an enchanted forest. Together, girl and creature romp across wordless spreads, their fun wrapped in quietude, until they fall asleep cozily on an enormous fluffy forest creature. After waking and parting ways with her newfound companion, the girl sees her daddy, and they walk home hand in hand. It is unclear if the adventure is a dream or a supernatural event, but the escapade appears to satisfy the child’s longing for her mother, who is hinted as absent. Clarity on this point may have been lost in translation from the original Japanese text, or perhaps Tanaka purposefully left the story open to interpretation. Black-and-white copperplate etchings skillfully juxtapose the ordinary world with the shadowy wonderland, where luminescent fireflies and flowers glow. Unfortunately, the specter of a stranger leading a child into a dark closet gives serious pause in an otherwise poignant and engrossing narrative.

Full of layers to peel back, consider, and discuss. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59270-358-6

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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From the Big Bright Feelings series

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

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 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Readers will delight in discovering the joyous time pumpkins have when it’s Halloween.

Magical moonbeams awaken a pumpkin patch to raucous Halloween-season revelry.

A moonbeam illuminates and energizes a smiley-faced pumpkin sitting alone on a stair; it promptly takes off to find a friend with whom to have a good time. An entire pumpkin patch, also sparked by the magical moon, instantly comes alive. And what merriment all the grinning gourds get up to! Their playful shenanigans include piling high on top of one another, bouncing on a trampoline, dancing, marching, and drumming, wearing costumes, and competing in games. They even engage in activities usually reserved for other holiday-themed icons—flying on brooms and making magic, for instance. As dawn approaches, the pumpkin leader escorts the cavalcade back home. At sunrise, each one takes up residence on a different house’s front porch and awaits that evening’s moonbeams to work their magic again. Liveliness and good cheer abound in this frisky rhyming tale in which the perennial holiday symbols naturally take center stage. Perky couplets that read and scan very well appear on most pages and are accompanied by energetic, expressive illustrations that highlight vivid oranges, yellows, blues, purples, and greens with touches of other bright shades.

Readers will delight in discovering the joyous time pumpkins have when it’s Halloween. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-56332-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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