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Both big and little siblings will see a bit of themselves in this exquisite equine-saturated tale.

Older/younger sibling conflicts are faced head-on, thanks to a herd of horses.

A younger sibling has an older—and much cooler—sister. “I want her friends to be my friends. I want her things to be my things,” the child tells us. But “she wants her friends to be her friends. She wants her things to be her things.” When the two fight, the younger child retreats and writes “stories of terrible horses.” They say horses are the most difficult thing for an artist to draw, but if that’s the case, then no one told Wilson-Max. His horses careen across the page in magnificent colors, hooves blazing, hair whipping in the wind, always leaving one small pony behind. After another fight, the child retreats again and writes about the horses, with “their terrible trampling / their ghastly galloping / their nagging neighing.” Only when the sister sees the book firsthand do the two come to a kind of accord. Antrobus takes a universal conflict and deftly synthesizes it to its most essential parts. Words and pictures work in tandem, expertly speaking volumes with minimal text. The children are brown-skinned; the younger one uses hearing aids.

Both big and little siblings will see a bit of themselves in this exquisite equine-saturated tale. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 16, 2024

ISBN: 9781536235487

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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From the How To Catch… series

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series.

Another creature is on the loose.

The long-running series continues its successful formula with this Hallmark card of a book, which features bright illustrations and catchy rhymes. This time, the mythical creature the racially diverse children set out to catch is an absent mom who does it all (lists of descriptors include the words banker, caregiver, nurse, doctor, driver, chef, housekeeper, teacher, entertainer, playmate, laundry service, problem solver, handywoman, cleaner, and alarm clock) but doesn’t seem to have a job outside the home and is inexplicably a dinosaur. As the children prepare gifts and a meal for her, the text becomes an ode to the skills the Mamasaurus possesses (“Day or night she’s always there. / She meets every wish and need”) and values she instills (“Sometimes life can mean hard work,” “kindness matters,” and “what counts is doing your best”). This well-intentioned selection veers into cliche generously sprinkled with saccharine but manages to redeem itself with its appreciation for mothers and all that they may do. Endpapers include a “to” and “from” page framed in a heart, as well as a page where young gift givers or recipients can draw a picture of their Mamasaurus.

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781728274300

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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