THE WORRY BALLOON

Sure to help kids conquer first-day-of-school fears.

Childhood anxieties are tamed with the help of a loving adult and coping methods.

Isla remembers a time when her biggest problems would melt away with a snuggle from Mami. Now, as she faces her first day of school, her mind is swirling with nonstop worries and what-ifs. Isla shares her fears with Mami, who talks her through a visualization exercise involving putting her worries in an imaginary balloon and letting it float away. As Isla and Mami walk to school, Isla focuses on her breathing and the familiar sights, sounds, and smells of her neighborhood. When they reach school and Isla’s anxiety surges, Mami reminds Isla to “try picturing what you want to see happen” and to “try making it something happy,” which helps her transition into the school day. While Isla’s worries haven’t disappeared for good, they have quieted thanks to positive self-talk and other strategies she’s practiced with Mami. Inviting illustrations include powerful visual representations of what it feels like to be frozen in fear—tree roots extending from Isla’s feet as she feels literally anchored to the ground; her legs stuck in quicksand—in addition to cheerful, reassuring scenes. Anxious readers will recognize themselves in Isla’s struggle and perhaps learn a new way of approaching their fears. Isla and her mom are Latine, with brown skin and wavy brown hair. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sure to help kids conquer first-day-of-school fears. (tips for “building your worry tool bag,” author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781250852939

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

CLAYMATES

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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