A sweet and well-meaning lesson in personification and metaphor, but this picture book fails to shine.

SUN WISHES

The sun sends the world and its inhabitants warm thoughts for peace, unity, and positivity.

A smiling sun shines down on each double-page spread, just as the moon did in Storms and Pavlović’s previous book, Moon Wishes (2019). Using the refrain “if I were the sun,” the narrator describes the sun’s movement from sunrise to sunset throughout the seasons of the year. The sun is personified as a serene explorer, muse, and comforter who lovingly wakes the world with “a gentle morning song” and ends each day with peaceful rest. In between rising and setting, the sun explores “every corner of this wondrous earth.” Alas, the narrative is disappointingly disjointed—the sun flits among pages that depict African wildlife, a school of smiling fish swimming up toward the sun, and a bear fishing in a river. Looking at the world from the sun’s point of view, the narrator is better able to “delight in all our differences”—the accompanying illustration shows 11 disparate birds perched in the same tree. Meanwhile, human diversity is portrayed on other pages: Happy children—some with brown skin, others with pink skin—make snow angels; a man using a wheelchair sits at a harvest table; and an Asian-presenting man wearing a conical hat walks across marshland. Pavlović’s loose mixed-media, colored-pencil, and ink illustrations use warm colors and are as consistently uplifting as Storms’ pretty but desultory word pictures. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet and well-meaning lesson in personification and metaphor, but this picture book fails to shine. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-77306-450-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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