HORTENSE AND THE SHADOW

A delicate original fairy tale that will likely appeal to young readers of imagination.

A young white girl in a snowy, onion-domed fairyland setting escapes from her shadow only to find she is not whole without it.

Hortense hates her shadow. It follows her everywhere, it does everything she does, and it grows “tall and dark / and crooked” when night falls. One day, Hortense escapes from her shadow, slamming the window on it, and her shadow is left behind. Hortense feels happy and free without the hated shadow—until the bandits show up. (These bandits are hidden within the illustrations throughout the book for sharp-eyed readers to discover.) When her shadow saves her, Hortense realizes that instead of being a hated nuisance, her shadow is an indispensable part of her, and so, in good fairy-tale fashion, all ends happily ever after. Natalia O'Hara's playful, dreamlike story is written in a lyrical cadence and relies on the poetry of the words themselves more than the reality they outline for meaning: (“she was as sad as an owl”). Lauren O’Hara (the O’Haras are sisters) contributes her own layer to the story’s fanciful mood with her soft illustrations of muted colors, filled with snowy landscapes, looming trees (for the scary bits), and storybook, folkloric buildings whose interiors show whimsical decorative details.

A delicate original fairy tale that will likely appeal to young readers of imagination. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-44079-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

PERFECTLY NORMAN

From the Big Bright Feelings series

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

MOVE!

Leave this on the shelf and take the kids outside to really move.

An interactive board book promises a variety of experiences.

A book that gets kids up and moving sounds like a great idea. The half-circle cutout of the spine and large handle formed by another die cut on the right side are intriguing. Unfortunately, the rhyming instructions for using the book as an exercise prop are confusing. Even adults will find themselves puzzled when told to “paddle the floor,” or to “hang on the handles. Step over the book. / You're a turtle in its shell! Go peek out and look.” The busy pictures shift perspective according to each scenario presented but give few visual clues. For example, the only hint of a dinosaur on the page where readers are told to “put this book to your mouth and let out a roar” like a dinosaur are the teeth that line the edges of what is meant to be a gaping maw. It’s not always obvious whether the book is meant to be facing readers or turned away from them, adding another layer of confusion. Furthermore, many of the instructions run counter to how young children are typically taught to treat books, as when they are told to step on it and then waddle or to lift it with their feet. The relatively thin board pages and weak handles will soon be torn by normal handling; following the directions in the text will only hasten the destruction.

Leave this on the shelf and take the kids outside to really move. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7611-8733-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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