Guaranteed to help readers of all ages find wonder each day.

MOST DAYS

Answering the question: Is any day really ordinary?

A child gets out of bed, brushes their teeth, gets dressed, and eats the usual cereal for breakfast. “Most days are ordinary days.” Or are they? In a feast of simple sensory experiences over the course of a day, the experiences of racially diverse, multigenerational communities suggest otherwise. A mix of interior and exterior, urban and rural scenes proves that “good things happen in the ordinary minutes of an ordinary day.” A potted plant has one leaf more than it did yesterday. A kid in a wheelchair cruises along the sidewalk, noticing “that spiderweb wasn’t there yesterday, and the puddle I splashed in is gone.” Two children sit on the steps of an apartment building and converse in sign language. “The bakery on the corner fills the air with the aroma of fresh bread.” Even “when the day is busy and the minutes go by too fast,” readers are encouraged to listen to bird song, smell the “grass in the wind,” and notice “the wagging of [their] dog’s tail.” Delicately lined illustrations with colors in soft tones support the feelings of positivity and well-being and the message that “another day will come tomorrow, full of extraordinary things filling ordinary minutes.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 72% of actual size.)

Guaranteed to help readers of all ages find wonder each day. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-88448-727-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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