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Even the quietest of readers will see a bit of themselves in this raucous tot.

A youngster tries to control his thunderous voice.

Sullivan, with a bulbous head and extra-wide mouth reminiscent of the title character of David Shannon’s No, David! (1998), can’t stop yelling. His mom wearily mutters, “Sullivan, I can’t hear myself think!” “YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO HEAR THINKING!” Sullivan roars with his head thrown back and jaw seemingly unhinged. Boisterous Sullivan does feel remorse. He tries to tape pillows over his mouth as a solution, to no avail. The adults in Sullivan’s life are patient; Sullivan just can’t suppress his loud tendencies. “I have loudness. In my body. Bubbling up. Always,” he explains. Biggs visually deepens the metaphor with greenish-blue bubbles starting in Sullivan’s stomach, Sullivan’s cheeks bulging as they increase, until suddenly he lets out “a giant Tarzan jungle YELL.” Sullivan’s mom suggests counting to three as a coping mechanism; it works, but luckily not all the time. Sometimes, as Sullivan learns, being loud is a good thing. Sullivan’s noise is rendered as an erupting greenish, gaseous cloud spilling from his mouth, which can be visually misleading yet is also strangely appropriate. Sullivan and his family are White, but his school community is racially diverse. Some may give the side-eye to the repeated invocation of Tarzan the “jungle king” to characterize Sullivan’s loudness, particularly when he uses it to bring a classmate of color into line, literally. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 37.5% of actual size.)

Even the quietest of readers will see a bit of themselves in this raucous tot. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30772-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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

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. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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