Sensitively shines a metaphorical light onto scary but nonetheless real emotions.

READ REVIEW

SHADOW

A child finds a new playmate, but troubles hang like a cloud over the house.

After a move, the narrator discovers Shadow, a spectral boy, under the bed. They spend days together, although the narrator’s perpetually distracted mother does not perceive Shadow even as his shape changes. Eventually, the two leave and wander into the woods, where Shadow goes off, leaving the child alone in a visually arresting spread that isolates the muffler-clad child on a nearly all-black page. After “a while, a very long while,” the child reunites with Ma when they recognize each other’s shadows. The white-presenting pair play and invite diverse new friends over for tea, including a cat that could be Shadow, who is not unwelcome. The digital artwork strategically uses grayscale with red and navy accents. The tale is definitely uncanny, featuring a doppelgänger (“In the dark, Shadow and me were the same”), and the characters’ washed-out eyes have an eerie look. Rest assured, there is a happy ending, with the mother present for multiple pages after the woods. Dappled edges and scratched textures embellish the dreamlike atmosphere. Whether seen as a metaphor for fear, grief, depression, or something else, this story professes that denial is not the way to deal with one’s troubles; it is better to communicate and be together.

Sensitively shines a metaphorical light onto scary but nonetheless real emotions. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-911373-83-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lantana

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Lit with sweetness.

SHARE SOME KINDNESS, BRING SOME LIGHT

Coco, who loves her gentle friend Bear, is shocked to learn that the other forest animals do not know about his kindness.

Inspired by one of her grandmother’s favorite maxims, Coco, a girl with light brown skin and curly brown hair, works with Bear to “share some kindness [and] bring some light” to the other animals in the forest. Interpreting it literally, the two make cookies (kindness) and lanterns (light) to share with the other animals. They trek through the snow-covered forest to deliver their gifts, but no one trusts Bear enough to accept them. As night begins to fall, Bear and Coco head home with the lanterns and cookies. On the way through the quiet forest, they hear a small voice pleading for help; it’s Baby Deer, stuck in the snow. They help free him, and Bear gives the young one a ride home on his back. When the other animals see both that Baby Deer is safe and that Bear is responsible for this, they begin to recognize all the wonderful things about Bear that they had not noticed before. The episode is weak on backstory—how did Coco and Bear become friends? Why don’t the animals know Bear better by now?—but Stott’s delicately inked and colored illustrations offer beguiling views of lightly anthropomorphized woodland critters that make it easy to move past these stumbling blocks. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67% of actual size.)

Lit with sweetness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6238-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining.

DON'T FORGET DEXTER!

A lost toy goes through an existential crisis.

The setup is on the copyright page. Amid the markers of a universally recognizable waiting room—fish tank, chairs against the wall, receptionist’s window, kids’ coloring table—is a tiny orange T. Rex with a dialogue balloon: “Hello?” A turn of the page brings Dexter T. Rexter into close view, and he explains his dilemma directly to readers. He and his best friend came for a checkup, but Jack’s disappeared. Maybe readers can help? But when Jack is still MIA, Dexter becomes disconsolate, believing his friend might have left him behind on purpose; maybe he likes another toy better? Dexter weighs his good qualities against those he lacks, and he comes up short. But when readers protest (indicated by a change in Dexter’s tone after the turn of the page), Dexter gains the determination he needs to make a plan. Unfortunately, though hilariously, his escape plan fails. But luckily, a just-as-upset black boy comes looking for Dexter, and the two are reunited. Ward’s ink, colored-pencil, and cut-paper illustrations give readers a toy’s view of the world and allow children to stomp in Dexter’s feet for a while, his facial expressions giving them lots of clues to his feelings. Readers will be reminded of both Knuffle Bunny and Scaredy Squirrel, but Dexter is a character all his own.

Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4727-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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