A good conversation starter for use with children who share Chloe’s privilege.

READ REVIEW

ADRIAN SIMCOX DOES NOT HAVE A HORSE

A young girl named Chloe learns that, sometimes, it’s more important to be kind than to be correct.

The book opens to loosely drawn children of various ethnicities casually sitting around a long cafeteria table. Pale-skinned, carrot-topped Adrian Simcox sits far to the right, staring off into space. Text set above him declares: “Adrian Simcox sits all by himself, probably daydreaming again.” The next spread—parents and children waiting for a school bus—shows the white narrator looking irritated as she witnesses Adrian telling “anyone who will listen that he has a horse.” Chloe has used logic to figure out that Adrian is lying, and the text pulls no punches as she rattles off some of the ways she can tell Adrian could never afford to own a horse, including “the free lunch at school” and holes in his shoes. Chloe notices that Adrian looks sad after she finally accuses him to his face of lying, but it is her mother’s ingenious use of showing—not telling—that brings Chloe to a new level of understanding. The tale is poignant and at times slightly humorous as well as frankly didactic. The art is an excellent complement, adding such dimensions as Chloe’s mother fixing a bike; contrasts between Chloe’s and Adrian’s respective school desks and neighborhoods; brushy foliage that repeatedly reveals Adrian’s imaginary horse.

A good conversation starter for use with children who share Chloe’s privilege. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3037-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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