An inspiring, positive tale that exemplifies staying true to yourself.



A boy pursues his love for dance despite bullies in Sanders’ picture book.

Prince, a 7-year-old boy, struggles to find his passion, particularly when compared to his popular and athletic brother, Andrew. Despite Andrew’s encouragement, Prince, who is Black, feels disheartened that “his body didn’t want to cooperate and do the things Andrew instructed.” When Mom takes the family to see the ballet at Lincoln Center in Manhattan, Prince is captivated and soon enrolls in a ballet class. The only boy there, he adores class and excels at the steps. The teacher, Miss Adriana, says, “He is destined to be a dancer!” The boy’s talent shines, and he becomes familiar with the “French words and the beautiful movements.” However, school bullies ridicule him for being a dancer. Prince’s mom says, “Trust in yourself, and never let what anyone says stop you from doing the things that you love.” She also suggests that Prince practice standing up for himself by talking to his pet hamster, Popcorn. When Prince nervously notices school staff and students in the audience at a performance at the mall, he reminds himself of his mom’s words and pushes on. Prince is shocked when his gym teacher, Coach L., praises his dancing and asks him to demonstrate moves in class. His diverse schoolmates, including Black and White students, cheer Prince and enjoy listening to his stories about “his adventures in dance.” Prince realizes he “didn’t need to play football or baseball to be a hero at school. He just had to find what he was good at.” Prince is a likable, relatable protagonist whose authenticity and determination are admirable. His dedication to ballet may inspire readers to discover their own passions and persevere through their own challenges. Ditya’s colorful digital illustrations offer fun, animated scenes of Prince’s journey, like “wearing his grown-up clothes” to the ballet and performing on stage. Readers will particularly enjoy Popcorn’s appearance, as when Prince imagines the critter wearing a tutu.

An inspiring, positive tale that exemplifies staying true to yourself.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63661-428-1

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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Safe to creep on by.


Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.


A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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