X marks the school: “The treasure of all treasures!” (Picture book. 3-7)



A pirate bus driver tells his new kindergarten charges to buck up and not be afraid, but then something happens that shows him to be a fraidy fraud.

On their first day of kindergarrrten, a rather unconventional bus driver greets six diverse kids whose fear (both of the new experience of going to school and of their driver) is more than evident. But the blatantly stereotypical (hook hand, peg leg, earring, hat, beard and mustache) pirate will have no blubbering on his bus: “Pirates don’t get scared!… / ’Cause we’re rrrough! And we’re tough! / And we ain’t got time for that fluffy stuff!” But when bumpy roads send his parrot flying out the window, the pirate’s “hornswogglin’ ” is revealed, and in a reversal, the children must convince the pirate that he can be brave and drive the bus even without Polly. An author’s note tells adults how to help anxious children faced with new experiences. Barry’s illustrations use fairly dark, somber hues to set the mood, and his fine-lined, scribbly style suits the pirate theme. The details will keep readers glued to the pages: Instead of stairs, the bus has a plank to walk, the windows are round like portholes, the steering wheel is that from a ship, and a jolly roger (the silhouette of a teddy bear head) flies from the roof.

X marks the school: “The treasure of all treasures!” (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58536-398-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet