Plants are pretty but passive, and it’s doubtful many readers will find them meaningful stand-ins for parenting.

READ REVIEW

I'M GLAD THAT YOU'RE HAPPY

A smiling plant narrates its life story, beginning the day that it is potted.

It is a happy moment when Mr. Florist holds a big green plant who shares its pot with a smaller plant. They live an idyllic existence in a flower shop filled to overflowing with many beautifully colored blooms. Customers happily sniff their ways through the selections. Then there’s more joy as a man with a garden takes them home, one that is filled with other plants and with many paintings of even more plants. They, the plants, are not passive observers but share in the good times and the bad. Then comes change—necessary but so traumatic. The smaller plant needs more space for its own roots. It is a move for the better, and once it’s done the bigger plant is oh so happy. Their future is full of birds singing and children playing. Perhaps this is a story about how to grow plants, but more likely it’s intended as a parable about parenting, nurturing, and letting go while maintaining bonds. The Iranian-born author and artist, who now lives in Canada, tells her tale of child-rearing with a positive and fairly glowing feeling of all-around goodness. She uses pastels, colored pencils, and collage in an impressionistic palette that gives her words an almost dreamy setting. Her characters are all white.

Plants are pretty but passive, and it’s doubtful many readers will find them meaningful stand-ins for parenting. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77306-122-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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

THE LOVE LETTER

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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