Funny, subtly empowering, and sweet.

PHOEBE DUPREE IS COMING TO TEA!

An enthusiastic host awaits an invited guest for tea and hopes that everything will be as perfect as the guest herself is.

Abby has much to prepare for her 3 o’clock tea party with Phoebe Dupree, a “perfect” girl who is “brilliant” at science, art, and singing. Abby cleans her dog, Louie, and instructs him on the “perfect” behavior required during Phoebe’s visit. The table is set, the delicate treats are arranged, the stuffed guests are seated, and the guest of honor arrives! Phoebe sits down “oh-so-politely,” and Abby goes to get the tray of treats. But the tray is very heavy…what if the perfect tea becomes a perfect mess? Will the new friendship survive? Abby’s excitement for her upcoming tea and her high-stakes feelings about impressing her new friend are fun and accessible. The text is a well-balanced representation of Abby’s voice in rhyming quartets that glide effortlessly for a smooth read-aloud. The page turns are expertly designed to maximize suspense and drama. Marley’s innocent illustrations combine pink and pearls with wet dogs and cargo pants for a delightful celebration of a broad range of girlhood expressions and experiences. Brown-skinned, casually dressed Phoebe’s large, curly Afro joyfully takes up space on the page while anxious, pale-skinned Abby with her high blonde bun and below-the-knee dress yearns to impress. But who needs perfect when one can have fun?

Funny, subtly empowering, and sweet. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0483-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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