NOW WHAT CAN I DO?

With a little ingenuity, a sagacious mother turns rainy-day doldrums into dynamic adventures in housework. When Little Raccoon wanders listlessly around the house plaguing his mother with pleas for something to do, she gently encourages him to make a game out of cleaning up. Humdrum chores such as putting away the laundry and setting the table become exciting when Little Raccoon masquerades as a basketball pro and pretends to be dining al fresco. From sunup to sundown, Little Raccoon is busily, happily engaged, and at bedtime, he eagerly anticipates the next day’s activities. Bridges (Am I Big or Little?, 2000, etc.) takes a common childhood complaint and attempts to show the possibilities of judicious applications of imagination. Clever, but it all comes across a bit flat: the dialogue between mother and child, for example, is somewhat stilted and lacking an easy flow. Yet the ideas are so nifty, and the illustrations so appealing, that the story still manages to be engaging. Sweet’s (Bouncing Time, 2000, etc.) full-bleed illustrations are filled with bright hues and busy details. Each spread reflects both the physical and imaginative world, with one page depicting mother and child going about their chores, while the facing page reveals Little Raccoon’s vivid imaginings. A good way to jump-start the creative juices when the ho-hum blahs loom near. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-58717-046-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: SeaStar/North-South

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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Both perfect for Lola fans and likely to earn her ever more readers.

LOLA GOES TO SCHOOL

From the Lola & Leo series

After years of everyday joys with McQuinn and Beardshaw’s Lola, readers now watch her start school.

It “will be a bit like story time at the library, but Lola will stay by herself.” The little black girl “knows what to expect” because she’s visited the school with her mom. She is prepared with gifts from loved ones—“fun pencils” from Nana, a water bottle from Ty. The night before her “big day,” Lola lays out her outfit. In the morning, she tucks her stuffed kitty, Dinah, in her bag and poses for a snapshot. In the classroom, Miss Suzan, a white woman, shows her where to put her things. Lola spends time reading with her friend Julia, who has pale skin and black hair, and then they play dress-up. Her mom sits for a while before saying goodbye. After snack time and more play, there is circle time. Of course, “Lola knows the song and all the motions.” Picking Lola up at the end of the day, Mommy hugs her daughter. Beardshaw’s soft, slightly smudgy illustrations allow young readers to focus on one cozy moment at a time. Even at this milestone, Lola still appears quite tiny, and the text is no more complex than in previous books, making this a seamless transition from Lola’s younger days to her new life in school.

Both perfect for Lola fans and likely to earn her ever more readers. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58089-938-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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