A visual feast for families interested in seeing the Native world through small, kind deeds.


Distinctive illustrations amplify a pointed moral lesson in this Native picture book for kids.

An intergenerational Native family sits in a drum circle on the cover, suggesting the importance of cooperation and community that’s elucidated in the pages that follow. What does it mean to be kind to your family, your elders, your environment, and yourself? In simple, repetitive language, Smith (who is of mixed Cree, Lakota, and Scottish heritage) explores how our behaving with generosity toward others makes us feel happy in return. By helping with laundry, walking the family dog, sharing with friends, and taking food to our elders, we learn that the gift of kindness involves giving and receiving. The first half of the book is constructed entirely on the phrase “I am kind when,” while the second half uses “I feel.” Strung together, the simple statements have the resonance of affirmations and establish a clear chain of connectedness, but there is no story arc in the conventional sense. What the book lacks in plot, it makes up for with its illustrations. Drawing on her mother’s Diné traditions, Neidhardt prominently features Navajo hair buns, moccasins, and baskets; a panoply of Indigenous characters—including one child who uses a wheelchair—is featured in rich detail. A French edition, translated by Rachel Martinez, publishes simultaneously.

A visual feast for families interested in seeing the Native world through small, kind deeds. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2522-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Solid series additions that teach useful skills and the power of practice.


From the I See I Learn series

Murphy’s I See I Learn visual learning series continues with two new titles for children that focus on the cognitive skill of name writing and strategies to stay safe when lost.

When Freda’s attention wanders to the toy store window, she stops to look, but her class keeps walking toward the firehouse. Lost, Freda must use all she has learned to help her teachers and classmates find her again. She stays calm, gets help from an adult and is able to tell that adult about herself—full name, address, phone number and school and teacher names. A final flow chart presents readers with these steps, and questions to the readers focus on “What if…” The scariness of being lost is ameliorated somewhat by the fact that most of the illustrations show the class within sight of Freda. In the simultaneously publishing Write On, Carlos (2011), Carlos asks his mom for help in learning to write his name. Over several days, readers can see that his practice is paying off as he progresses from being able to write “Car” to proudly writing his full name on paper, in sand and with chalk while his supportive friends watch. An alphabet chart at the bottom of many pages highlights the letters used to form the names, while the final question section asks readers what names they can write. The bright illustrations clearly show both the effort that Carlos is expending and his imperfect practice pages. 

Solid series additions that teach useful skills and the power of practice. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58089-462-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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How many toilet-training manuals take the toilet’s side? (Picture book. 3-5)


Feeling hurt because young Danny refuses to sit on it, a toilet heads for…browner pastures.

Danny will happily sit on chairs and sofas, but the commode makes him anxious. Considerably bummed (“He hates me”), said fixture at last packs its plunger and departs—the very night before Danny decides it’s finally time. As the toilet leisurely takes in a movie, visits an art museum, and poses for photos with tourists, Danny and his mom set off on a frantic search through “all the wrong places” (port-a-potties and public restrooms) before sighting their quarry at last on the subway to (where else) Flushing Meadows. Reconciliation ensues, differences are papered over, and one reminder to flush later, the whole family (toilet included) rushes away to celebrate. Ricks endows his angst-y porcelain protagonist with anthropomorphic facial features and deposits it and Danny’s family in a New York(ish) setting splashed with suggestive ads (“Feeling Drained?”) and signage. Danny and his mom have red hair and pale skin, while Danny’s dad has black hair and somewhat darker skin. Aside from the visual innuendo, there is nary a whiff of what might be going into the toilet (nor any mention of urination), and the focus seems to be more on alienation issues than excretory give and take. Still, the episode may give children who share Danny’s anxiety a handle on their feelings.

How many toilet-training manuals take the toilet’s side? (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5122-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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