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

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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

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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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A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite.

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AFTER THE FALL (HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN)

Humpty Dumpty, classically portrayed as an egg, recounts what happened after he fell off the wall in Santat’s latest.

An avid ornithophile, Humpty had loved being atop a high wall to be close to the birds, but after his fall and reassembly by the king’s men, high places—even his lofted bed—become intolerable. As he puts it, “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Although fear bars Humpty from many of his passions, it is the birds he misses the most, and he painstakingly builds (after several papercut-punctuated attempts) a beautiful paper plane to fly among them. But when the plane lands on the very wall Humpty has so doggedly been avoiding, he faces the choice of continuing to follow his fear or to break free of it, which he does, going from cracked egg to powerful flight in a sequence of stunning spreads. Santat applies his considerable talent for intertwining visual and textual, whimsy and gravity to his consideration of trauma and the oft-overlooked importance of self-determined recovery. While this newest addition to Santat’s successes will inevitably (and deservedly) be lauded, younger readers may not notice the de-emphasis of an equally important part of recovery: that it is not compulsory—it is OK not to be OK.

A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-682-6

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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