This bird’s-eye view of famous fictional settings is not without its turbulent moments.

COME, READ WITH ME

A fast flight through the settings of famous children’s stories.

This title begins with the happy faces of two young children—one with dark-brown skin and curly black hair and the other with lighter-brown skin and straight black hair. As the pages go by, the children explore the imaginary lands of famous fairy tales and stories. Full of smiles, the two friends travel through sea and air, pass castles and candy houses, and have tea in Wonderland. While the illustrations are double-page spreads pleasingly full of color and detail, it is the syncopation (or lack thereof) that makes the story awkward. “And a jungle of wild things who march to their very own beat. / Oh, the places we’ll go, the things you will meet.” With an uneven meter, the verses defy easy scansion. The literary references scale from short nursery rhymes, like “Humpty Dumpty” for the very young, to complex stories for older readers, like Charlotte’s Web and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The two characters just observe these places while the references whiz by, with up to five stories mentioned on a page; when copyrighted characters are depicted, they (appropriately) often look nothing like what children familiar with them will expect. Despite the potential for confusion, this title does pay homage to the wonderful world of imagination found in children’s books.

This bird’s-eye view of famous fictional settings is not without its turbulent moments. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1787-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

PERFECTLY NORMAN

From the Big Bright Feelings series

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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