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

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text.


Rhyming verses about kindness using a consistent metaphor of widening cracks versus blooming plants are amplified by cutouts on each page.

The art and layout are spectacular, from the cover through the double-page spreads near the end. Racially diverse toddlers are shown engaging in various moods and behaviors, some of which create unhappiness and some of which lead to friendship and happiness. Every page’s color palette and composition perfectly complement the narrative. The initial verso shows two children in aggressive stances, backgrounded by a dark, partly moonlit sky. Between them is a slender, crooked cutout. The large-type text reads: “It all / starts / with a / crack / that we can hardly see. / It happens when we shout / or if we disagree.” The recto shows two children in sunlight, with one offering a pretty leaf to the other, and the rhyme addresses the good that grows from kindness. In this image, the crooked die cut forms the trunk of a tiny sapling. Until the final double-page spreads, the art follows this clever setup: dark deeds and a crack on the left, and good deeds and a growing tree on the right. Unfortunately, the text is far from the equal of the art: It is banal and preachy, and it does not even scan well without some effort on the part of whomever is reading it. Still, the youngest children will solemnly agree with the do’s and don’ts, and they may decide to memorize a page or two.

Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-229-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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