This may not be the most obvious first choice for a storytime or for a young reader to pick up; rather, it is a deceptively...

READ REVIEW

THE FULL HOUSE AND THE EMPTY HOUSE

This allegory about friendship that bridges difference and perceived inequality is quietly yet effectively told in an understated tone.

Two similar-looking houses are friends. Their differences are compellingly shown rather than told: “On the outside / they looked much the same” is followed by two spreads. The first shows a comfortable interior with a sofa, end table, and art on the walls along with the words “But on the inside— ”; the second reveals a bare room and the sentence’s conclusion: “—the two houses were quite different.” Inanimate objects may seem to be unusual choices as characters, but this approach depersonalizes the implied relative difference in wealth. Ink illustrations, done in a limited palette of brown, salmon, and turquoise on a mustard background, have a naïve look that emulates woodblock prints. They suitably interpret the quiet tone of the text, which avoids becoming celebratory about overcoming difference and imbalance. Neither of these two houses is better than the other; they are simply friends, each with something to offer the other. Refreshingly, the full house doesn’t minister to the empty one, and the empty one doesn’t owe the full one any thanks.

This may not be the most obvious first choice for a storytime or for a young reader to pick up; rather, it is a deceptively powerful, timely message in the guise of a quiet, old-fashioned package. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9990249-3-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Ripple Grove

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more