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 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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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. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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