A long, drawn-out setup that leads to a punch line so understated many kids won’t get it.

READ REVIEW

THAT'S MINE

Exactly what’s inside that little egg left unattended in the mighty jungle?

A small green frog peeks out from some leaves at a white egg about his own size. “That’s mine!” he declares. A split second later, a long brown snake hisses its way into the picture from above, claiming the egg for himself. Then an eagle flies down with the same assertion. Before he can fly away with the egg, a lizard comes to take it. They fight, and the egg flies through the air. It bounces off the head of an elephant, miraculously not breaking. The elephant reacts with an enormous “Ouch!” When the angry pachyderm turns to ask to whom the egg belongs, each animal passes the buck, the lizard to the eagle to the snake and, finally, back to the little frog. The elephant politely returns the egg, to the chagrin of the others, who leave. Readers may find themselves chagrined, too, at the sudden deflation of tension. What gives? A second later, the egg starts to crack; inside is not a baby frog, but a crocodile. She does look like the frog and rushes towards him with open arms, crying “Mine!” With the exception of the cute little frog, Van Zeveren’s text and pictures are both eminently forgettable.

A long, drawn-out setup that leads to a punch line so understated many kids won’t get it. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-8775-7927-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations.

I BELIEVE I CAN

Diversity is the face of this picture book designed to inspire confidence in children.

Fans of Byers and Bobo’s I Am Enough (2018) will enjoy this book that comes with a universal message of self-acceptance. A line of children practices ballet at the barre; refreshingly, two of the four are visibly (and adorably) pudgy. Another group tends a couple of raised beds; one of them wears hijab. Two more children coax a trepidatious friend down a steep slide. Further images, of children pretending to be pirates, dragons, mimes, playing superhero and soccer, and cooking, are equally endearing, but unfortunately they don’t add enough heft to set the book apart from other empowerment books for children. Though the illustrations shine, the text remains pedagogic and bland. Clichés abound: “When I believe in myself, there’s simply nothing I can’t do”; “Sometimes I am right, and sometimes I am wrong. / But even when I make mistakes, I learn from them to make me strong.” The inclusion of children with varying abilities, religions, genders, body types, and racial presentations creates an inviting tone that makes the book palatable. It’s hard to argue with the titular sentiment, but this is not the only book of its ilk on the shelf.

Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266713-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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