In a decade of de rigueur picture books praising books, it is primarily the artwork that sets this one apart.

THE GOOD LITTLE BOOK

When a boy heads to the study, ordered to “think things over,” he begins a relationship with a book that becomes special to him, even if it has no “proper jacket.”

When the boy—initially sporting a scowl and a slouch—first opens the good little book, Arbona presents a compelling, sequential, aerial view of a sullen child who nonetheless becomes fascinated by reading. Vivid, fantastical artwork augments the ensuing, almost obligatory sentences about book-induced trips to faraway places and varied emotions. As the seasons pass, the book “didn’t turn him into a bookish boy, or improve his naughty behavior, but it did become a loyal companion.” At the story’s climax—“The boy lost his favorite book”—the boy seeks help in a crowd of people who appear as bizarre as the creatures in his book, thanks to the bold, colorful, absurdist artwork. It is easy to imagine an actor with an upper-class British accent reading the wryly humorous text: “The boy sought help but discovered that very few people have time for a lost book—no matter how good or little it might be.” The simple plot reaches a conclusion rife with bibliophilic didacticism, but the humor and art along the way create an enjoyable romp.

In a decade of de rigueur picture books praising books, it is primarily the artwork that sets this one apart. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77049-451-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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