Sure to be a staple in classrooms everywhere.



Sophie gets really, really discouraged.

Bang’s latest offering about blonde, white, emotive Sophie promotes a growth mindset as it details her shift from discouragement to perseverance. While the expressive style of Bang’s vibrant, gouache paintings will be familiar to those who know the previous Sophie titles (When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry…, 1999, etc.), this story seems more text-heavy than its predecessors. This difference isn’t detrimental to the book, however, which begins with a hurtful experience at home. This causes Sophie to adopt a fixed mindset that she isn’t smart enough to succeed in school when her teacher presents a math problem. Sophie’s friends also struggle, and then their teacher introduces them to “the Most Important Word…YET. You haven’t figured it out…YET.” These interactions take place in a classroom populated by diverse students and led by a black teacher, and with her encouragement, Sophie and her classmates keep working to solve the problem in their own ways. The resulting shift to a growth mindset makes them believe they can make progress in their learning. Their teacher celebrates their success at the book’s end, and then Sophie brings her newfound confidence home and uses it to help her father work through a project that’s stumped him. Like the Little Engine before her, Sophie now thinks she can, and that makes all the difference. Bang explains the concepts and her collaboration with educator Stern in an author’s note.

Sure to be a staple in classrooms everywhere. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-15298-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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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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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.


A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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