THE LIGHT IN ME SEES THE LIGHT IN YOU

A book built to comfort—not to confront.

An exquisitely gentle introduction to loss.

The connection between Robin (a White child with red hair) and Poppy (a red bird with a white beak) is instantaneous. From the moment they meet, they see “the light” in each other. Soon the two are inseparable, sharing moments like watching the clouds or climbing a tree. They have their differences (mostly surrounding food), but their affection abides. And then, one day, Poppy is gone. With only a feather to remember Poppy by, Robin is left lonely and alone. Yet after a dream of flying with Poppy, the child feels their friend in so many places: “The light in you will always be part of the light in me.” It is clear that the point of the story is not to confront grief or the crushing weight of sadness. At no moment do readers see Robin even cry, the book’s focus fixated squarely on a meditative inner light. So too does it eschew a spiritual explanation of where Poppy is now (or even what happened to the bird). Some caregivers may find the book’s message too vague for their children. For others, it will be precisely what they need. Watercolors and colored pencils match tone and mood, page by page. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 29.9% of actual size.)

A book built to comfort—not to confront. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-54485-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

HEY, DUCK!

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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