A simple and sweet introduction to Bhutanese culture that’s as unvarnished as its protagonist’s home.

ROOM IN YOUR HEART

Neypo shong gna? (Is there room for me?)” A string of visitors seeking shelter approach a kind old woman’s tiny house one evening.

As each traveler arrives at the old woman’s door in this tale from Bhutan, she invites them inside and continues to stir her dinner pot. Soon, her little home is squeezed full, and each person receives a bite of stew, enough to ease their hunger. When they marvel at how she has fit so many into such a small house, her reply is a reflection of the spirit of generosity that infuses the Bhutanese culture. The repeated refrain of “Neypo shong gna?” gives the text a nice rhythm, though some passages feel disjointed, as if it were a translation. Tshering’s watercolor illustrations are varied in composition but inconsistent in execution, with some depictions rich in realistic detail and others almost cartoonish. It is also unclear whether this story, originally published in India, is a traditional folktale or an original effort. It represents a culture that is not often seen in children’s literature and imparts an important message of generosity, which mitigates the inconsistencies in both the text and illustrations. Closing notes provide further facts about Bhutan.

A simple and sweet introduction to Bhutanese culture that’s as unvarnished as its protagonist’s home. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-999547-62-5

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Kitaabworld

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children...

TOYS GALORE

A fizzy yet revealing romp through the toy world.

Though of standard picture-book size, Stein and illustrator Staake’s latest collaboration (Bugs Galore, 2012, etc.) presents a sweeping compendium of diversions for the young. From fairies and gnomes, race cars and jacks, tin cans and socks, to pots ’n’ pans and a cardboard box, Stein combs the toy kingdom for equally thrilling sources of fun. These light, tightly rhymed quatrains focus nicely on the functions characterizing various objects, such as “Floaty, bubbly, / while-you-wash toys” or “Sharing-secrets- / with-tin-cans toys,” rather than flatly stating their names. Such ambiguity at once offers Staake free artistic rein to depict copious items capable of performing those tasks and provides pre-readers ample freedom to draw from the experiences of their own toy chests as they scan Staake’s vibrant spreads brimming with chunky, digitally rendered objects and children at play. The sense of community and sharing suggested by most of the spreads contributes well to Stein’s ultimate theme, which he frames by asking: “But which toy is / the best toy ever? / The one most fun? / Most cool and clever?” Faced with three concluding pages filled with all sorts of indoor and outside toys to choose from, youngsters may be shocked to learn, on turning to the final spread, that the greatest one of all—“a toy SENSATION!”—proves to be “[y]our very own / imagination.”

Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children everywhere. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6254-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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