A charming carpe diem tale for readers of all ages.

In this whimsical debut picture book translated from the German, Hesse and Winterberg implore young and adult readers alike to embrace what they love to do.

The authors tackle the theme of what people can do when they’re true to themselves. Playing to this idea, they show characters forgoing mundane routines and defying expectations. For instance, while stuck in traffic, a weather-forecasting frog on his way to a TV studio “was about to honk his horn” when he saw the sun rising in his rearview mirror. “He frowned and thought to himself…I’ve been doing this for so long now that I can’t even recall the last time that I actually felt and enjoyed the weather.” Breaking from his routine, he climbs to the highest rooftop of a nearby building to bask in the sun. Meanwhile, an Italian violin famous throughout the land decides to perform spontaneously while standing on top of her limousine, dazzling her fellow commuters sitting in traffic. Close by, two penguins on their way to work in the city’s casino spot a large spider knitting outside her window and implore her to make them a hammock, “[s]o we can put it up over the street and sit in it! And listen to the violin play and enjoy the sun.” In the end, the story shows how small acts of joy can inspire others. Throughout, Hesse’s mixed-media illustrations will delight both children and adult readers; her picture of an overweight businessman sporting a tie emblazoned with Chinese text and an older woman wearing “recycled” clothes, for example, provides priceless commentary on how the rich and elderly are valued in today’s global economy. Readers will also appreciate the fantastic illustrations of card-playing penguins and a firefighting gargoyle, despite the muted earth tones used throughout. Although the English translation is stilted at times, readers will still find it easy to appreciate the universal themes in this clever picture book.

A charming carpe diem tale for readers of all ages. 

Pub Date: March 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-1483987613

Page Count: 32

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2014


From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017


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

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 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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