A fine celebration of freedom, creativity, and self-expression.


A girl learns to appreciate paintings that come from her own brush in this children’s picture book.

Scarlet, a freckle-faced, redheaded white girl, once found a magic paintbrush, and ever since, she’s been able to make any image appear perfectly on her canvases. But one day, the brush can’t be found. Her parents give her new paintbrushes, but Scarlet finds her efforts disappointing because the images aren’t “perfect”—or often, even recognizable. She tries painting with her left hand or using a stick-and–cotton-ball implement, but perfection still eludes her. Nevertheless, she does like her new, strong lines and bold shapes. When she rediscovers the lost brush, there’s a problem: The “perfect” paintings aren’t exactly what Scarlet wants. With a regular brush, though, she can create the shapes and hues she now likes—with her own magic. Perfectionism can start young, so Stoller (Return to Coney Island, 2017, etc.) provides a useful change of perspective in this book. Although it might seem desirable to have a brush that can create faultless images, Scarlet is shown to discover a greater power in making art herself. Sonke’s (The Little i Who Lost His Dot, 2018) kinetic, detailed illustrations do a great job of conveying Scarlet’s artistic journey from the conventional to freely swirling shapes and bright colors.

A fine celebration of freedom, creativity, and self-expression.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-946101-67-9

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Spork

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller


A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet