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A book to cuddle with on a lap or a quiet, contemplative addition to a younger storytime.

This simple ode to friendship is snuggly, warm, and a little bit bland.

A squat brown bear celebrates the many ways that friends enrich life. Friends can be silly, friends can be comforting, and sometimes all they need to do to make a difference in your day is send a quick wave your way. Indeed, this bear protagonist has a wide variety of animal companions: a studious mole who is deep underground with a book, penguins on ice floes (though astute readers will wonder why the polar bear in the background is in the same region), capering barnyard animals. There are friends to be found even underwater—fish and turtles make excellent buddies. The text unrolls in uncomplicated rhyming stanzas: “Some friends are kind / and know just what to say, // Bringing the sunshine / to brighten your day.” Abbot’s illustrations are flat and delicately hued—even when saturated they are still calming and sweet. Cavorting sheep and bouncing bunnies bring gentle smiles. In a far-from-groundbreaking resolution, the bear’s best friend is another ursine pal, though the story is told in first person, so the “you” may make audiences feel as though they are included as well.

A book to cuddle with on a lap or a quiet, contemplative addition to a younger storytime. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68010-085-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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From the Kissing Hand series

Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original...

A sweetened, condensed version of the best-selling picture book, The Kissing Hand.

As in the original, Chester Raccoon is nervous about attending Owl’s night school (raccoons are nocturnal). His mom kisses him on the paw and reminds him, “With a Kissing Hand… / We’ll never be apart.” The text boils the story down to its key elements, causing this version to feel rushed. Gone is the list of fun things Chester will get to do at school. Fans of the original may be disappointed that this board edition uses a different illustrator. Gibson’s work is equally sentimental, but her renderings are stiff and flat in comparison to the watercolors of Harper and Leak. Very young readers will probably not understand that Owl’s tree, filled with opossums, a squirrel, a chipmunk and others, is supposed to be a school.

Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original shouldn’t look to this version as replacement for their page-worn copies. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-933718-77-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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

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