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LEMON CHILD

A humorous tale that encourages stepping out into the unknown, even if it’s scary (Picture book. 4-8)

A stubborn lemon realizes the world beyond his tree is worth exploring.

High in the boughs of the mother lemon tree, the tiny lemon children joyfully bounce and giggle, talk and sing, looking forward to turning yellow. But not Tony, a “pretty miserable lemon” who prefers to stay in the shade, hoping to retain his lime-green complexion. The target of his siblings’ constant rhyming taunts, Tony continues to sour. Soon all the other lemons are bright yellow and ripe, and Tony is abandoned as they jump from the tree into the world. Stubborn and lonely, Tony is visited by several wild animals who help him gain the courage to take a leap of faith, but is it too late? Translated from the German, Brönner’s third-person narrative is lively and descriptive. The story’s message is conveyed with a light comedic tone that deftly avoids veering into the pedantic. Dialogue, presented in hand-lettered, underlined text placed near the speaker, provides much of the sophisticated humor. The painterly illustrations employ a vibrant color palette, reminiscent of Brian Wildsmith’s style. The lemons, including Tony, have personality to spare, with spindly limbs, tiny eyes, full sets of teeth, and extremely long noses. Although the ending feels slightly too quiet after the book’s dramatic buildup, late bloomers will relate to Tony’s feelings.

A humorous tale that encourages stepping out into the unknown, even if it’s scary (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4418-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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HOME

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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