Pretty and well-meant but unsuccessful

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LITTLE THINGS

In this ambitious debut, Dyer strives to explicate the relationship between small things and big impacts.

“My favorite things…are little things,” a child in red dress and matching red hair bow narrates in the opening pages. From page to page, “little things” can mean either concrete items—from rocks through berries and seeds to stars (which are not exactly little)—or abstract ideas (light and shadow) or, finally, in the closing spreads, actions, such as a helping hand. It is these vague and shape-shifting examples of “little things” that leave readers confused for much of the book. Pousette’s detailed and dreamlike mixed-media paper-cut shadowbox illustrations are enchanting, but they do little to unmuddle the text and sometimes even confuse it further. One spread in which the child, who has brown skin, samples a “yummy” strawberry then plants some seeds and then is shown walking among “humongous,” long-stemmed flowers is striking but so fanciful it further muddies the concept of “little things.” Still, several strong passages and accompanying illustrations—especially a striking three-page foldout spread that details the protagonist’s discovery of two fawns that become “great big” deer “eventually”—are indicative of what this convoluted picture book could be had more discipline been given to refining the big idea it tries to convey.

Pretty and well-meant but unsuccessful . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4413-2859-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peter Pauper Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

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. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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