A didactic lesson couched in humor and fantasy, it will delight young children, but it’s anyone’s guess they’ll learn the...

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PLEASE SAY PLEASE!

“I want….I want…!” Caregivers who find these words all too familiar may find this etiquette book useful.

There are two main characters—a pigtailed little girl and a prim, mustachioed gentleman in an orange tuxedo (is he her father, a genie, or a random gentleman on the street, readers may wonder); both are depicted with paper-white skin. In every scene, the girl is corrected when she yells, “I want….I want…!” She learns that if she asks nicely and says “please,” she’ll get what she wants—and more! “Please say ‘please.’ and you’ll brighten my day. / But if you say, ‘I WANT,’ I’ll just walk away,” the gentleman says. When the girl’s politely worded request for a giant is rewarded, the tables are turned. “I want to PLAY!” screams the giant. “WAIT! Please say ‘please,’ and you might get your way,” she replies as his foot hovers over her head. Speech bubbles and bold, bright brush strokes evoke the comic strips of yesteryear, while the dialogue-only rhyming text sets a brisk pace. Overall, the story has admirable objectives, but it could mislead. “Please say ‘please’ and I’ll grant any wish,” may give kids the impression that just as long as they say “please,” they’ll get anything and everything they want, a misconception bound to lead to disappointment.

A didactic lesson couched in humor and fantasy, it will delight young children, but it’s anyone’s guess they’ll learn the lesson intended . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-84485-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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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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Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations.

I BELIEVE I CAN

Diversity is the face of this picture book designed to inspire confidence in children.

Fans of Byers and Bobo’s I Am Enough (2018) will enjoy this book that comes with a universal message of self-acceptance. A line of children practices ballet at the barre; refreshingly, two of the four are visibly (and adorably) pudgy. Another group tends a couple of raised beds; one of them wears hijab. Two more children coax a trepidatious friend down a steep slide. Further images, of children pretending to be pirates, dragons, mimes, playing superhero and soccer, and cooking, are equally endearing, but unfortunately they don’t add enough heft to set the book apart from other empowerment books for children. Though the illustrations shine, the text remains pedagogic and bland. Clichés abound: “When I believe in myself, there’s simply nothing I can’t do”; “Sometimes I am right, and sometimes I am wrong. / But even when I make mistakes, I learn from them to make me strong.” The inclusion of children with varying abilities, religions, genders, body types, and racial presentations creates an inviting tone that makes the book palatable. It’s hard to argue with the titular sentiment, but this is not the only book of its ilk on the shelf.

Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266713-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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