Gender stereotypes have been a widely explored subject since William’s Doll, if not before; readers are encouraged to seek...



Harrison Dwight fights dragons but not his feelings.

With unpoetic rhymes, a sledgehammer of an already-overdone message, and cartoonish illustrations that mirror the text rather than extending it, this text barely meets any standards of the picture-book form. It’s easy to understand, at least; rhyming couplets (with shaky scansion) use simple words, with concepts so excruciatingly spelled out that readers won’t be left wondering what conclusions they’re supposed to draw. At first the narrative focuses on Harrison Dwight, a boy with floppy hair who is “a ballet dancer. I’m also a knight!” After this brief introduction, the story tells readers what to do and how to feel: “Fighting is no way to solve what’s gone wrong. / If we just talk it out, we can all get along,” and “Girls and boys both sometimes feel sad. / It’s a brave thing to cry; don’t fear that it’s bad.” Gender-nonconforming behavior in picture books is typically reduced to depictions of cis boys engaging in typically feminine activities, and this book breaks no ground in that regard, even with a few depictions of girls and women watching football and discovering cold fusion. Harrison has beige skin and brown hair; his blonde, white mom and light-brown–skinned, black-haired dad suggest he may be biracial.

Gender stereotypes have been a widely explored subject since William’s Doll, if not before; readers are encouraged to seek out something, anything, before this cack-handed attempt. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-13858-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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