An uplifting book about unlimited potential that’s, sadly, pretty limited.

THE SKY IS THE LIMIT

A CELEBRATION OF ALL THE THINGS YOU CAN DO

A simple exhortation to young children to do all things.

Through this rhythmic narrative, young readers will be tantalized by the activities that are within their reach. Typical suburban, middle-class childhood activities are portrayed, such as riding bikes, swimming in lakes, and playing in treehouses. Additionally, messages about citizenship in action, like mending fences and volunteering for causes, provide children with ideas of how to contribute to the world they live in; themes of working together and imagination are present throughout. There is so much to do and so much yet to come: “Lessons to learn / and books to be read… / each holding a glimpse / of what lies ahead.” Bright and clean-cut cartoons dominated by sunny yellow, blue, and green will infuse readers with feelings of happiness and simplicity. While the rhythmic list depicts a great variety of activities, however, characters are all white as paper, with little to no diversity implied beyond gender presentation cued by stereotypical dress and hairstyle. Both the upbeat celebration of possibility and a spread of characters in graduation gowns place this book as a conceptual companion to Oh, the Places You’ll Go! However, with its avoidance of diversity, it feels very much out of step with the times.

An uplifting book about unlimited potential that’s, sadly, pretty limited. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7982-7

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one.

WAY PAST WORRIED

Brock may be dressed like a superhero, but he sure doesn’t feel like one, as social anxieties threaten to rain on his fun    .

Juan’s superhero-themed birthday party is about to start, but Brock is feeling trepidatious about attending without his brother as his trusty sidekick. His costume does not fit quite right, and he is already running late, and soon Brock is “way past worried.” When he arrives at the party he takes some deep breaths but is still afraid to jump in and so hides behind a tree. Hiding in the same tree is the similarly nervous Nelly, who’s new to the neighborhood. Through the simple act of sharing their anxieties, the children find themselves ready to face their fears. This true-to-life depiction of social anxiety is simply but effectively rendered. While both Nelly and Brock try taking deep breathes to calm their anxieties without success, it is the act of sharing their worries in a safe space with someone who understands that ultimately brings relief. With similar themes, Brock’s tale would make a lovely companion for Tom Percival’s Ruby Finds a Worry (2019) on social-emotional–development bookshelves. Brock is depicted with black hair and tan skin, Nelly presents White, and peers at the party appear fairly diverse.

Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8686-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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