An endearing adventure with verse that soars.

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Benjamin Birdie's First Flight

Dotsikas’ debut children’s picture book offers the lesson that with a little help from one’s friends, anything is possible.

A tiny, yellow bird named Benjamin Birdie, like many youngsters, isn’t willing to accept his mama’s opinion on whether he’s ready to grow up. As soon as she leaves to find food, he decides, contrary to her opinion, that he’s ready to fly. Other birds are flying, after all, so he thinks he can, too. He leaps into the air, manages a few triumphant flaps—and then plummets to the ground. The illustration is brilliant in the way it extends vertically across two pages to create a sense of just how far he falls. The concerned expressions on the other animals’ faces are touching, letting readers know that even in Benjamin Birdie’s moment of greatest despair, he isn’t alone. After quickly realizing that he can’t make it back up to the nest by himself, he begins asking other creatures for help. None can take him the entire way, but each one gets him a bit closer, until he finally gets back to his beloved nest. The verse is easy to read aloud, and the overall rhythm of the text works well, without any stumbling blocks. The typeface design creatively highlights the different meanings and emphases of words, which will help the text come alive even for children who are too young to read it themselves; for example, it uses the word “s-t-r-e-e-e-e-e-e-t-c-h-i-n-g” to describe what the giraffe does with her long neck. Most of the animals believe they can get Benjamin all the way home, and each is sad after realizing that he or she can’t quite get there. The end result of these helping paws, heads, wings, and tails, however, is success, which will teach children that even a partial victory can help accomplish a goal—particularly if everyone works as a team. A final, wonderful lesson comes when Benjamin admits to his mother that he’s not yet ready to fly, showing that honesty can result in hugs and love even when one makes a mistake. The animal glossary at the end of the book, meanwhile, is a wonderful educational tool featuring fantastic, full-color illustrations.

An endearing adventure with verse that soars.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9961450-0-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

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

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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