Happy to see such a well-done feelings book.

I'M SAD

From the I'm Books series

Bibliotherapy done right.

In their latest picture-book collaboration, Black and Ohi (I’m Bored, 2012) serve up some good life lessons with the help of a quirky trio of friends: a child with a dress and pigtails; a talking flamingo, who is the titular sad character; and an anthropomorphic potato. As the flamingo expresses its sadness and the other characters, in their own ways, try to provide comfort, the text is delivered entirely in color-coded dialogue, and Ohi’s spare visual aesthetic matches the writing’s restraint. The stolid potato’s lines provide ample comic relief, while the human child exudes empathy. No reason is ever given for the flamingo’s sadness, and neither the child’s many ideas for cheering it up, nor the potato’s one idea (“Dirt!” and “Soil!”) help. The child assures the flamingo that it’s OK to be sad, but finally, a just-this-side-of-mean wisecrack from the potato gets everyone, including the flamingo, laughing. “I still feel a little bit sad, but I also feel a little bit better,” the flamingo says on the penultimate page, and here Ohi depicts the friends in silhouette, which provides a gently melancholy tone for the sweet conclusion.

Happy to see such a well-done feelings book. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7627-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Slight and contrived.

LITTLE TACO TRUCK

A little orange food truck parks in the same place every day, bringing tacos to hungry construction workers—till one morning, a falafel truck takes his spot.

Miss Falafel then brings by more of her friends, crowding out the taco truck. Little Taco Truck whines and cries, but after four days of being shut out by the bigger trucks, he finally takes the initiative. He spends the night in his former parking space, defending his territory when the other trucks arrive. The rest immediately apologize, and after some creative maneuvering, everyone fits—even the newly arrived noodle truck. Valentine’s naïve call for cooperation glosses over the very real problem of urban gentrification represented by the flood of bigger and better-equipped trucks taking over the neighborhood. When the taco truck is the only game in town, the food line consists of hard-hatted construction workers. Then, as falafel, arepa, gelato, hot dog, and gumbo trucks set up shop, professionals and hipsters start showing up. (All the customers are depicted as animals.) The author also inadvertently equates tacos with a lack of sophistication. “ ‘Hola, Miss Fal…Fal…’ Little Taco Truck tried to sound out the words on the side of the other truck.” Sadly, the truck sells Americanized crisp-shelled tacos. Even the glossary ignores the culinary versatility and cultural authenticity of the soft taco with this oversimplified and inaccurate definition: “A crispy Mexican corn pancake folded or rolled around a filling of meat, beans, and cheese.”

Slight and contrived. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6585-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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