Not for everyone.

READ REVIEW

I HATE EVERYONE

A little girl experiences big feelings on her birthday.

The protagonist’s gender is implied by her dress and her bobbed hairstyle, and the first-person text immediately immerses readers in her negativity: “It’s my birthday. So boo! I hate all of you.” A scowling, up-close portrait of the pink-faced, dark-haired girl depicts her wearing a party hat and sticking her tongue out at the reader while clutching a stuffed toy. She’s yelling on the next spread in the middle of a crowd of people, who all have the same pink skin. It’s her party, and she’ll yell if she wants to, is the gist of the story from this point until the last few pages. Throughout, everyone else is remarkably patient and unbothered by her bad behavior, and the text eschews verbal responses or omniscient narration. Expressive, gestural illustrations adopt a low visual perspective to emulate a child’s point of view and end up stealing the show. But even their success can’t smooth over the narrative gap when, on a pair of facing pages, the girl suddenly and resolutely changes her tune. “Go away!” she shouts on the verso; “No! Stay! Can you stay even if I hate you?” she says on the recto, reducing the book to spectacle rather than story. While perhaps true to life, this lightning-fast shift is unsatisfying, as it asks readers to accept her change of heart as passively as the long-suffering partygoers accepted her hatred.

Not for everyone. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-57687-874-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

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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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

Our Verdict

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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