Despite its textual platitudes, the visual stories here are well worth telling.

READ REVIEW

MOST PEOPLE

“Most people are very good people.”

Leannah keeps repeating his message in a worthy yet didactic text that might be most valued in Sunday schools were it not for the surprisingly diverse and contemporary illustrations. Precise, occasionally irreverent ink-and-watercolor illustrations bring different neighborhood people into focus as they go about their days. A bearded, tattooed, white biker type politely allows an older woman with light brown skin, using a cane, to board the bus first and courteously says “After you ma’am.” A little black girl hands another, who sits scowling, a flower to cheer her up. A white man with a blue mohawk waits patiently in line. A young white boy points out a lost dollar bill to a man with light brown skin waiting to buy honey. A street musician plays, a blind woman hugs her guide dog, and a grandfather and his grandson, both white, give a pie to a homeless white woman. Many of these characters are seen in their apartments that night, the Hell’s Angel lookalike and the blind woman both reading in their separate apartments, the spiky-haired punk playing with his cats, and some families enjoying a meal together on the roof. Yes, the illustrations depict an almost perfect place, with diversity, inclusiveness, and basic goodness, but we can dream.

Despite its textual platitudes, the visual stories here are well worth telling. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-88448-554-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced.

BIRD HUGS

Watch out, Hug Machine (Scott Campbell, 2014), there’s another long-limbed lover of squeezes in the mix.

Bernard, a tiny, lavender bird, dejectedly sits atop a high branch. His wings droop all the way to the ground. Heaving a sigh, his disappointment is palpable. With insufferably long wings, he has never been able to fly. All of his friends easily took to the skies, leaving him behind. There is nothing left to do but sit in his tree and feel sorry for himself. Adamson amusingly shows readers the passage of time with a sequence of vignettes of Bernard sitting in the rain, the dark, and amid a cloud of paper wasps—never moving from his branch. Then one day he hears a sob and finds a tearful orangutan. Without even thinking, Bernard wraps his long wings around the great ape. The orangutan is comforted! Bernard has finally found the best use of his wings. In gentle watercolor and pencil sketches, Adamson slips in many moments of humor. Animals come from all over to tell Bernard their troubles (a lion muses that it is “lonely at the top of the food chain” while a bat worries about missing out on fun during the day). Three vertical spreads that necessitate a 90-degree rotation add to the fun.

Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9271-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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