Illustrations lift this warm tale of friendship

THE BEAR WHO DIDN'T WANT TO MISS CHRISTMAS

All the woodland animals are looking forward to Christmas except one.

After all, Little Bear will be hibernating through Christmas, so “what’s the point” in decorating or writing a letter to Santa, especially since “he’ll go straight past my door without leaving a present?” Little Bear, a small, fuzzy, blue creature with prodigious eyebrows, trudges home alone. Understanding his blues, his friends work together in secret to make him an Almost Christmas celebration. Big Deer takes Little Bear off for a walk while the others prepare his house, and when he sees what they’ve done, he is thrilled. The illustrations in this slight story, a French import with uncredited translation, are stronger than the plotting, which struggles to spread a thin storyline over its 40 pages. But it’s hard not to warm to these cartoony, anthropomorphic critters. In an early double-page spread they sit around a fire toasting marshmallows, Big Deer especially humorous in an ugly sweater with Rudolph on the front and a red hunter’s cap with ear flaps perched between his antlers. And the spread in which Little Bear’s friends greet him holding a “Merry Almost Christmas” banner with identically wide eyes and beaming smiles is hard not to love.

Illustrations lift this warm tale of friendship . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-912006-85-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribblers/Sterling

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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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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