Empathy for others is currently a hot topic, skillfully and humorously explored here with a candid look at the feelings and...

LET'S HAVE A DOG PARTY

Kate and her friends throw a wild, loud birthday party for her dog, Frank, a calm canine who prefers peace and quiet.

Frank loves nothing better than sleeping in his special spot, on the rug in the warm sunlight streaming in the window. One day he is shocked by Kate and her four energetic friends, who seem to be playing at putting on a surprise birthday party (unsupervised by any adults). The raucous kids all talk loudly, tie balloons and bows onto the uncooperative dog, wrap up his bed and bowl as presents, and toss confetti with abandon as they chase the poor pooch. Frank runs away and hides in a closet until Kate comes to her senses and sends the other children home. She makes Frank a dogfood birthday cake, and, in a satisfying conclusion, the pair curl up for a nap in the dog’s favorite spot in the sunshine. Kids will get a kick out of the marauding, almost grotesque party participants, who are all illustrated with their mouths wide open (revealing tongues and uvulas) as they yell and sing for the overwhelmed dog, with large display type illustrating their increasingly louder words. The multimedia illustrations cleverly capture both the untamed atmosphere of the cavorting kids and the bewildered, overwhelmed dog. Kate has light skin and red hair; three of the other children have brown skin and black hair.

Empathy for others is currently a hot topic, skillfully and humorously explored here with a candid look at the feelings and preferences of someone without a voice. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-451-48117-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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

HEY, DUCK!

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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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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