The ingredients may be standard, but the recipe yields a fresh, new dish that’s outstanding in almost every way.

READ REVIEW

I USED TO BE AFRAID

Standard Seeger ingredients of careful die-cuts, lush painting, and child-centered text combine in her latest picture book.

A striking cover shows a wide-eyed girl, her mouth agape, looking to the right and seeming to dread the book's opening. The title page doesn’t reveal what's scared her, increasing readers’ anticipation as the girl cowers behind a chair. Subsequent pages relate that she “used to be afraid of” spiders, shadows, and the dark; each fear is then followed by a double-page spread that resolves it with the line “but not anymore” and a picture that uses integral die-cuts to renegotiate the once-scary thing. For example, the scary spider is not-so-scary when the girl gazes in wonder at its web. Other, more abstract fears—of making a mistake, change, and being alone—are then articulated, deepening the emotional resonance of the character's experiences. Concluding spreads show her running from her big brother, who wears a scary mask. In a clever and honest twist, this fear isn't so easily resolved. "I used to be afraid of my big BROTHER / and I STILL AM!" she declares. Seeger saves the best for last, though, with the last page slyly adding "Sometimes" as the girl tries on the mask behind her unsuspecting brother, and then closing endpapers deliver a pleasing coda of sibling play.

The ingredients may be standard, but the recipe yields a fresh, new dish that’s outstanding in almost every way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-631-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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The book is available in just about every format--but this is the perfect one.

GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU

POP-UP

It's hard to believe that a pop-up wasn't the creators' original intention, so seamlessly do moveable parts dovetail into this modern classic's storyline.

In contrast to the tale's 1998 pop -up version, the figures here move on every page, and with an unusually graceful naturalism to boot. From pulling down Big Nutbrown Hare's ears on the opening spread to make sure he's listening to drowsily turning his head to accept a final good-night kiss in a multi-leveled pull-down tableau at the close, all of Little Nutbrown Hare's hops, stretches and small gestures serve the poetically spare text—as do Big Nutbrown's wider, higher responses to his charge's challenges. As readers turn a flap to read Big Nutbrown's "But I love you this much," his arms extend to demonstrate. The emotional connection between the two hares is clearer than ever in Jeram's peaceful, restrained outdoor scenes, which are slightly larger than those in the trade edition, and the closing scene is made even more intimate by hiding the closing line ("I love you right up to the moon—and back") until an inconspicuous flap is opened up.  

The book is available in just about every format--but this is the perfect one. (Pop-up picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5378-1

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Should have readers and caregivers singing, clapping, and bouncing along.

THE BUTTON BOOK

This picture book plays on the universal temptation to push buttons.

A squirrel—presumably the first-person narrator of the book—finds a large, round, red button and wonders what would happen when it’s pressed. The squirrel presses the button, and a large rubber horn pops up and honks: “Beep!” The sound attracts a bird and a dog, and together the three come across a triangular orange button. “What does the orange button do?” they wonder, and they discover that it causes them all to clap. As the picture book progresses, other animals—including an elephant, a tortoise, a deer, and a small dinosaur—join the trio, and together they come across and press a giant hexagonal blue button, a round green button, a yellow button (literally—it looks as though it’s come off a coat), a square pink button, and a small purple button that can only be reached by climbing a ladder. Each of the buttons makes the friends do something different, from singing and bouncing to blowing raspberries. British writer Nicholls’ simple, silly narrative and Woollvin’s colorfully childlike illustrations result in a fun picture book that incorporates shapes and colors and that can be used at home and in libraries and classrooms. Pages are dominated by gray with accents—including the animals’ fur and feathers—changing to match the color of each button.

Should have readers and caregivers singing, clapping, and bouncing along. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6715-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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