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A gentle exploration, using a child’s words and told at a child’s pace, of a marvelous world

From tiny discoveries to one big treasure, the natural world delights at every turn.

In simple yet engaging dialogue, two children set out on a treasure hunt, through a meadow and a wood, in search of something “shiny and mysterious and precious…and always hidden.” The younger one finds a feather (“not shiny enough”), an acorn (“not mysterious enough”), and a milkweed pod (“not precious enough”); all while they play in the grass and trees around them. Ready to give up, the younger child is sure they’ll never find the too-well-hidden treasure, but the tenacious older one takes a few steps more. At last, they discover something truly shiny, mysterious, precious, and hidden, which won’t fit in pockets but instead will live on in the memories of these young explorers. Softly muted, colorful illustrations feature treasures big and small to discover on each detailed spread. Perspective changes throughout, with close-ups, faraway landscape spreads, and a lovely look down at one child’s feet immersed in water as the two children hold hands. The children are depicted nearly constantly in motion, with the older child’s long, black hair often flowing sideways in the wind. (Both have pale skin and straight, black hair.) The companion French title offers a superb translation (also by Messier), with its own lively phrases—perfect for building language skills in young readers.

A gentle exploration, using a child’s words and told at a child’s pace, of a marvelous world . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1734-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Affectionate and affirming.

Today co-anchor Melvin pens an ode to the father-son bond.

A dad lists all the things he admires about his son, including the boy’s willingness to face his fears (such as diving into the swimming pool) and his ability to “make people laugh, / bring joy to folks.” The child shows “kindness and grace” when apologizing for a mistake, and he perseveres in the face of failure (“They can’t all be wins”). The boy has an inquisitive mind (“You ask questions and investigate. / Who knows what you’ll find?”), and he’s a caring big brother who loves building sand castles with his younger sibling. Ultimately, the father salutes his son for the person he is “through good times and bad, / no matter what.” Melvin conveys the joy of watching a child grow into a strong, capable adult while maintaining a sense of childlike wonder. Rather than focusing on traditionally masculine activities or attitudes, he celebrates qualities such as emotional intelligence and a nurturing spirit. While the text on occasion dips into sentimentality, overall Melvin delivers a sound message. Cloud’s digital illustrations depict the family and their diverse community with expressive faces, capturing their myriad emotions and lending the book an exuberant tone. The father presents Black, his partner appears white, and the tan-skinned children are biracial; all are unnamed.

Affectionate and affirming. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063206137

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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