A touching read that will speak to all little ones longing to be big.

Calvin slowly realizes he’s not ready to be a grown-up just yet.

Calvin, who, like his parents, has brown skin and dark hair, is upset by all that he cannot do. Though his father has always affectionately called him Little Man, he isn’t big, tall, or strong enough to do what he wants, like reaching the counter. Frustrated, Calvin imagines himself tall enough to make a slam dunk. He envisions himself as a huge tree that towers over the others. And he fantasizes about being a strong storm cloud that wreaks havoc outside of his house. Afraid of this new strength, Calvin opens his eyes and returns home. He tells his father that he wants to be called Calvin, not Little Man, because he wants to remain a little boy…at least for now—a rather mature realization. The book also offers a commendably multifaceted view of masculinity. Upending gender stereotypes, Calvin’s father is seen baking cookies and cheering his son on when he learns to ride a bike. Though he’s strong, he’s also “cuddly and comfy” “and “soft and safe”—exactly the kind of man Calvin wants to be one day. Children will readily relate to Calvin. The cartoonlike illustrations are appealing. The facial expressions of the characters are well done, especially Calvin’s fear and frustration and his father’s tenderness. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A touching read that will speak to all little ones longing to be big. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 27, 2023

ISBN: 9780807510445

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023



Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022


A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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