Despite some structural weaknesses, a thoughtful treatment of what it means to be a friend.

EUNICE AND KATE

Eunice and Kate are always together, but each must learn to appreciate the other for who she truly is.

Eunice and Kate live in “side-by-side apartments,” where their mothers do laundry in the same basement and chat while Eunice and Kate share their dreams. Eunice dreams of being a ballerina; Kate dreams of being an astronaut. Both girls’ loving moms work to make ends meet. One day at school, when it’s time to draw a portrait of each other, “they opened their eyes and observed.” Readers might think Eunice and Kate are going to notice their physical differences—Eunice is white with brown hair, and Kate is black with tall, puffy hair. But it’s their friend’s dreams that they question. Eunice draws Kate as a ballerina, and Kate draws Eunice as an astronaut. When they exchange drawings, each says, “That’s not me.” That night, after their mothers recognize some accuracy in the portraits, each girl decides to make a new drawing, featuring both of them combining their dreams. The text alternates between the girls at each page turn, which mostly works but sometimes feels a bit forced, as do the pages about their mothers; the structure is not quite enough to give the story a cohesive feel. The cartoon illustrations dramatize thoughts and feelings with expressive faces, close-ups, and a range of layouts.

Despite some structural weaknesses, a thoughtful treatment of what it means to be a friend. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9996584-7-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Penny Candy

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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