A nice, gentle reminder that it takes two to make a friendship work

READ REVIEW

PLAY WITH ME!

Two friends with different ideas of fun find a way to play together.

A little pig named Pip tries in vain to interest Nico the bear in playing with toys. Nico agrees to play—the cello. Pip tries to entice Nico with a wagon full of stories and lots of ideas for games, from dressing up like heroes to playing dolls, but Nico declines each one. Lots of white space and a playful typeface set the stage for the possibility of Nico’s coming around, but Pip just becomes more and more frustrated as Nico serenely makes music. Pip finally gets Nico’s attention by hollering, “I meant play with me!!!” Young children will relate to Pip’s exuberance and exasperation while also appreciating that sometimes you just want to do your own thing. Lee’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations capture the emotions of each character—Nico’s joy of music and patience toward Pip, whose tail even looks despondent as it seems more and more likely that they won’t be playing together. Playful touches—Nico knocks over Pip’s block tower with the bow; Pip uses the scroll of Nico’s cello to tie one end of a jump rope. This first picture book by author and illustrator Lee gives lots of room for children to fill in the gaps with their own imaginations.

A nice, gentle reminder that it takes two to make a friendship work . (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54601-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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A sweet cetacean story.

THE HEART OF A WHALE

The flora and fauna of the ocean respond to a lonely whale’s beautiful music by helping him find another whale.

“Whale’s song was so beautiful it could reach the farthest of faraways.” Over a double-page spread, a simply drawn white whale—detailed with a large eye, a small mouth and fins, and a small lavender heart—swims past a variety of pastel-hued sea denizens. The lyrical text is set in type that emulates hand-lettering. Watercolors are the appropriate choice for a tale that occurs in a sea full of creatures—with an occasional glimpse of land and sky as well as a cheerfully colored sailboat and lighthouse. Collage, pencil sketching, and washes produce a dreamlike effect that also feels sweetly humorous. A double-page spread of sea horses lounging atop spirited jellyfish is especially whimsical. Musical terms are cleverly used to describe the singing whale’s positive effects on others (“a cheerful symphony for a sad urchin”). After several pages of poetic lines about the talented singer, readers learn that his heart feels “empty.” The ocean carries his sighing wish across miles of lovingly rendered sea habitats until the solo becomes a duet. Although the flap copy speaks of friendship, even the youngest of readers will sense that this is a whale of a romance. Beneath its warmth is a poignant reminder of the loss to all if whale songs become history.

A sweet cetacean story. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984-83627-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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