Swipe this one off the shelf for a belly-laugh–inducing beach read.

READ REVIEW

SMUG SEAGULL

Smug Seagull meets its match.

The titular avian character is smug because it’s “the best snack swiper from shore to shore,” if it does say so itself—and it does. Repeatedly. No beachgoer’s snack is safe from its swiping ways, and it’s darn proud of that fact. “I got my name in lights!” it brags, pointing to a lamppost sign reading: “ATTENTION PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE SEAGULLS.” And “I got my name in the sky,” it continues, flying near a plane pulling a banner that advertises “The Seagull Grill.” The comics-influenced storytelling, with sunny-hued panels and speech balloons, is ideal for the text’s cheeky humor, which owes something of a debt to Mo Willems’ Pigeon books. Smug Seagull gets its comeuppance not from a bus driver, but when a tiny crab swipes back a french fry the gull had swiped from the crustacean. A slapstick chase ensues, complete with underwater antics, and a decidedly less smug Smug Seagull emerges from the sea, humbled, dismayed, and french fry–less. Things take a turn for the worse when it realizes beachgoers have found ways to prevent it from swiping their snacks. “I’VE LOST MY SWIPE TO A CRAB!!!” Smug Seagull wails. But all is not lost. The crab shows the gulls how to endear themselves to “tiny humans” and still get plenty of snacks.

Swipe this one off the shelf for a belly-laugh–inducing beach read. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-52319-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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