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A sweet story about what makes a house a home and a portrayal of adoption that has its merits and shortcomings.

A fun and lighthearted story about adoption.

J.J., a newborn baby with ruddy skin, is adopted into a rambunctious family. Each of his four siblings, who are loud and energetic, clamor around, attempting to touch him, although he is fast asleep. The dog barks, the washing machine beeps, and the siblings thunder through the house, playing and making music, but J.J. sleeps through the din. When all of the siblings leave the house for a weekend to participate in various extracurricular activities, J.J. cannot sleep—it is too quiet! For the first time, he wails inconsolably and grows cranky. It is only when his boisterous siblings return—giggling, chasing each other, and loudly regaling their parents with stories—that J.J. finally dozes off. Adoptive parents in children’s books are usually White, but Garbutt’s story refreshingly features both adoptive parents and an adoption agent who present as people of color; J.J.’s siblings are also racially diverse. This offering further sets itself apart from other children’s books about adoption by telling a story about an adopted child that does not focus explicitly on the experience of adoption. However, like so many picture books portraying adopted children, Garbutt’s narrative presents a simplistic, one-sided view that focuses solely on a happy homecoming and fails to mention anything about J.J.’s birthparents, perpetuating the stereotype that the true life of adoptees begins at adoption.

A sweet story about what makes a house a home and a portrayal of adoption that has its merits and shortcomings. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0419-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily.

A group of young “dinosauruses” go out into the world on their own.

A fuchsia little Hugasaurus and her Pappysaur (both of whom resemble Triceratops) have never been apart before, but Hugasaurus happily heads off with lunchbox in hand and “wonder in her heart” to make new friends. The story has a first-day-of-school feeling, but Hugasaurus doesn’t end up in a formal school environment; rather, she finds herself on a playground with other little prehistoric creatures, though no teacher or adult seems to be around. At first, the new friends laugh and play. But Hugasaurus’ pals begin to squabble, and play comes to a halt. As she wonders what to do, a fuzzy platypus playmate asks some wise questions (“What…would your Pappy say to do? / What makes YOU feel better?”), and Hugasaurus decides to give everyone a hug—though she remembers to ask permission first. Slowly, good humor is restored and play begins anew with promises to be slow to anger and, in general, to help create a kinder world. Short rhyming verses occasionally use near rhyme but also include fun pairs like ripples and double-triples. Featuring cozy illustrations of brightly colored creatures, the tale sends a strong message about appropriate and inappropriate ways to resolve conflict, the final pages restating the lesson plainly in a refrain that could become a classroom motto. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-82869-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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