Overall, a varying presentation turns self-help sour. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

READ REVIEW

SHY SPAGHETTI AND EXCITED EGGS

A KID'S MENU OF FEELINGS

Inconsistency may be the greatest curse in the culinary world, and the fictional Feelings Restaurant suffers from it.

A menu of emotions (lonely lettuce, angry apples and sorry steak, to name a few) introduces tips for children to healthily address their behavioral responses. Catchy recommendations capture attention, and there’s some truth to be found in the bubbly assertions (“the more you worry, the bigger your worries get!”) Refreshingly, this book offers an appropriately complex exploration. With professional background in clinical psychology, the authors address techniques for families to implement, including counting and breathing exercises, when emotions or negative thoughts overwhelm. The nonjudgmental tone is unfailingly positive, but it’s a shame when the voice veers into patronizing territory. “We’re ALL full of feelings. …but they’re not always easy. That’s why kids need help figuring them out.” Generalizations are unavoidable at this level, but they lead to oversimplification by stereotyping children’s preferences. Repeated exhortation to seek adult support feels more condescending than encouraging (“grown-ups know the most facts of all”), with this same sentiment echoed in the lengthy parents’ note. Bland design elements bog down the animated food, even the sulky cupcakes and boogieing eggs. These light spreads lack the vibrant colors expected in a robust kitchen.

Overall, a varying presentation turns self-help sour. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4338-0956-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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