For Berkner’s fans; there are much better books about children visiting imaginative lands.

PILLOWLAND

Berkner’s children’s song gets the picture-book treatment with illustrations from Garoche.

What kid hasn’t made a massive pillow fort and imagined all sorts of adventures? Well, Berkner’s premise is that there is a land where everything is made of pillows, and three lucky children get to visit there. (They appear to be siblings, perhaps a blended family: Mom and one girl are black; Dad, one boy, and one girl are white.) The illustrations transition between depictions of obvious imaginative play in a bedroom to a fantasy world and back again at the end, when the parents peek in at the three asleep. Garoche’s art consists of photos of papercut artwork arranged in dioramas with some Photoshop details. Reminiscent of Michael Garland’s work (though more pastel in color) or that of Elly McKay (though less ethereal), the illustrations are a mixed bag, with layers and hard edges juxtaposed against all the pillows. The king and queen of the song are obviously stand-ins for the parents. Children who know the tune may not sit still for a reading, while those who don’t may wonder at the repeated refrain.

For Berkner’s fans; there are much better books about children visiting imaginative lands. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6467-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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This extraordinary book will make it hard for any child reader to settle for the mundaneness of reality.

WHAT IF...

A testament to the power of an imaginative mind.

A compulsively creative, unnamed, brown-skinned little girl with purple hair wonders what she would do if the pencil she uses “to create…stories that come from my heart” disappeared. Turns out, it wouldn’t matter. Art can take many forms. She can fold paper (origami), carve wood, tear wallpaper to create texture designs, and draw in the dirt. She can even craft art with light and darkness or singing and dancing. At the story’s climax, her unencumbered imagination explodes beyond the page into a foldout spread, enabling readers both literally and figuratively to see into her fantasy life. While readers will find much to love in the exuberant rhyming verse, attending closely to the illustrations brings its own rewards given the fascinating combinations of mixed media Curato employs. For instance, an impressively colorful dragon is made up of different leaves that have been photographed in every color phase from green to deep red, including the dragon’s breath (made from the brilliant orange leaves of a Japanese maple) and its nose and scales (created by the fan-shaped, butter-colored leaves of a gingko). Sugar cubes, flower petals, sand, paper bags, marbles, sequins, and lots more add to and compose these brilliant, fantasy-sparking illustrations.

This extraordinary book will make it hard for any child reader to settle for the mundaneness of reality. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39096-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Raise your hats, everyone; raise them high!

VERY GOOD HATS

In her debut picture book, adult novelist Straub offers a tip of the hat…to hats.

This captivating charmer isn’t about hats’ utilitarian functions—that is, the why, when, or how they’re worn. Nor will readers learn the latest scoop in millinery fashion trends. The author instead muses on…well, hats—mostly how and what they can be made from. And does she have ideas! Among many items, hats can be fashioned from pajama pants, towels, bathtime bubbles (temporarily), books, bowls, and—get this—even cats! Speaking of creativity, who says hats only go on heads? Hats fit on fingers, too: Have you ever tried adorning fingertips with raspberries, tortellini, chewed gum, and doll shoes? And—wait for it—where is it written that only people wear hats? Can’t houses, pots, turtles, woodland animals, and stuffed bears wear chapeaux, too? There are many more charming examples in this wonderfully clever title, and children will want to return to it again and again. Adults sharing this adorable winner should be prepared to use it to stimulate creative discussions, drawing, and/or craft-making activities. Children will have a ball donning their thinking caps and coming up with original ideas for devising all sorts of hats and various creatures and objects to wear them—including themselves. The digital illustrations incorporate paper collage and are as colorful, lively, and inventive as the text. Characters are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Raise your hats, everyone; raise them high! (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52943-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rocky Pond Books/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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