BEAUTIFUL BLUE EYES

Richmond offers a bland and confusing a companion to her Beautiful Brown Eyes (2009). The story mostly focuses on how much the narrator, presumably a mother or group of mothers, loves her (or their) blue-eyed children in their many moods. These moods are apparently supposed to be obvious by the children's expressions, but the faces remain relatively unchanging on many pages, often sporting near-identical smiles. On the page describing a child’s tears, the child looks startled, not sad or in pain from the shot she’s receiving. Buttons and yarn add a collage element to the smudgy full-color images but do nothing to clarify the relationship between text and pictures. The text unfolds in rhyme; an unfortunate choice, as syntax and rhythm are frequently forced: "Pretty, for sure, / those 'blues' I know, / and, oh, what they tell me / 'bout you as you grow." Overall, the impact is jarring and poorly executed. Rather than confuse a young audience, explore emotions with My Many Colored Days, by Dr. Seuss and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (1996), or Flyaway Katie, by Polly Dunbar (2004). For books on parental love, try All the Seasons of the Year, by Deborah Lee Rose and illustrated by Kay Chorao (2010), or Who Loves the Little Lamb?, by Lezlie Evans and illustrated by David McPhail (2010). (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4022-5639-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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The message is wholehearted and positive, but the cloying execution doesn’t stand out.

THE JOY IN YOU

A parent koala encourages its child to engage in every pursuit, and so do several other animals.

The British celebrity author, host of both children’s and adult TV programs, has a very positive message to spread, but there is nothing original in the lightweight text. The many animal characters pictured in diverting, fuzzy-edged illustrations engage in various activities as the text encourages them. “You can sing! If you love to sing, sing. / Shout at the top of your lungs, or whisper soft and sweet.” On verso, a frog quartet harmonizes, while across the gutter, a lion is shown with open mouth roaring as a small bird presumably whispers. Using rhyme and alliteration but without real poetic consistency, lines such as these appear: “You can share. You can care. You can create. You can learn. / You can wonder. You can wander.” The pink flamingo creating a fantastic dessert with pineapple rings is an appealing image, and children will enjoy seeing the cuddly baby koala throughout the book as other animals step up for their showcase. The fantasy-forest setting and its animals will keep small children engaged, but the sweetness comes with a significant aftertaste of treacle. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 34.5% of actual size.)

The message is wholehearted and positive, but the cloying execution doesn’t stand out. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-18141-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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It’s pretty, but it falls far short of authenticity.

THE TALE OF THE TIGER SLIPPERS

A retelling of a Persian folktale substituting tigers for people.

A tiger cub lives in a stately home built by its father. In the center of the vast gardens there is a fountain that, to the surprise of the tiger cub’s friends, contains a pair of worn-out slippers. When the cub’s friends ask why the slippers are there, the tiger’s father explains that when he was younger, he and his mother were impoverished. His mother—the tiger cub’s grandmother—made the slippers for him as an act of love. As the tiger grew older, wealthier, and more successful, he was repeatedly told that his worn, old slippers were not appropriate for his new station in life. Although he agreed, no matter how many times he tried to get rid of his slippers, they always managed to find a way back to him. Eventually, the tiger’s uncle helps him find a way to keep his slippers—and his memories of his past—without sacrificing his future. Done in Brett’s signature, paneled style, the book’s illustrations, while vibrant, read more like Western picture-book illustrations than the Mughal miniature style the author claims as her inspiration. Furthermore, although they are beautifully detailed, at times, the number of panels makes the pages feel crowded. The text is well paced, but Brett’s choice to retell the folktale using animals instead of people comes across as exoticizing at a time when the current Indian government is systematically erasing Muslim, particularly Mughal, history.

It’s pretty, but it falls far short of authenticity. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-17074-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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