A touching exploration of long-term grief with charming illustrations.

READ REVIEW

SOMETHING LOST SOMETHING FOUND

A girl struggles with grief over losing her mother in this picture book from debut author Paruzel-Gibson.

Ella has trouble sleeping. She misses her mom, and she feels “like a balloon without air. Or like noodles gone cold on a plate.” When she sees a classmate acting happy, she asks her to sneeze on her, thinking it might be contagious, but all she gets is a cold. After she hears her grandmother say that money can’t buy happiness, Ella throws her piggy bank out the window. She later dresses up as a witch for Halloween and makes a happiness potion, and she tries to catch a star. Nothing works until she visits an apple tree that she and her mother had often visited, and the memory makes her happy. Many children’s books about grief deal with immediate loss, but Paruzel-Gibson engagingly allows Ella to take some time before reconnecting with happy memories. The digital, cartoon-style color illustrations by Catrinella (Chin Up, 2019, etc.) have a mixed-media feel, particularly in the apple tree’s beautiful texture. Some transitions feel jarring, as when the tree is introduced with an unusual phrase: “Ella had a much-loved friend.” However, the accessible vocabulary and very understandable behaviors will resonate with young readers. Ella is white, and her neighbors have varying skin tones.

A touching exploration of long-term grief with charming illustrations.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5255-4381-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year.

LOVE MONSTER AND THE LAST CHOCOLATE

From the Love Monster series

The surprised recipient of a box of chocolates agonizes over whether to eat the whole box himself or share with his friends.

Love Monster is a chocoholic, so when he discovers the box on his doorstep, his mouth waters just thinking about what might be inside; his favorite’s a double chocolate strawberry swirl. The brief thought that he should share these treats with his friends is easily rationalized away. Maybe there won’t be enough for everyone, perhaps someone will eat his favorite, or, even worse, leave him with his least favorite: the coffee one! Bright’s pacing and tone are on target throughout, her words conveying to readers exactly what the monster is thinking and feeling: “So he went into his house. And so did the box of chocolates…without a whisper of a word to anyone.” This is followed by a “queasy-squeezy” feeling akin to guilt and then by a full-tilt run to his friends, chocolates in hand, and a breathless, stream-of-consciousness confession, only to be brought up short by what’s actually in the box. And the moral is just right: “You see, sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others…that you start to find out just how much they think of you.” Monster’s wide eyes and toothy mouth convey his emotions wonderfully, and the simple backgrounds keep the focus on his struggle.

A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-00-754030-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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