It’s not easy to make the moral case for always telling the truth without sounding preachy, but this monster book does it by...

THE WHOPPER

A personified lie that grows bigger with each fib anchors the story of an ugly sweater, some bad decisions, and the restorative power of fessing up.

Percy isn’t too thrilled with his new handmade sweater from Grandma, done in a garish set of colors that make him frown mightily. The moment Percy and his brother, both white boys, get outside to walk the dog, the sweater ends up on the pooch and is destroyed. When Percy comes home, he lies and says he lost the sweater. When Percy goes to his room, his lie has become a little blue creature. “You told a big, hairy, monstrous lie,” it tells him. “It was a whopper. I am your Whopper!” Predictably, the Whopper grows and begins to dominate Percy’s life as the lies continue. Somewhat less predictably, the Whopper gobbles up Percy and takes his place. It’s only when, from inside the Whopper, Percy confesses the truth that the Whopper fades away. Ashdown’s deceptively simple drawings on closer look reveal lovely detail around the edges. She has a knack for drawing adorable pets readers might like to adopt right off the page. The Whopper itself, though less lovable, makes a big impression while not overstaying his disruptive turn in the story.

It’s not easy to make the moral case for always telling the truth without sounding preachy, but this monster book does it by simply sticking to the story and keeping it fun. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9291-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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

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BE YOU!

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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Serving looks and a little bit of shade with every reread.

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SHADY BABY

Inspired by the authors’ own daughter, Shady Baby brings a vivacious style and presence to every part of her day and to all the people she cares about.

“Shady might be tiny / but she’s a mighty big deal!” Her day starts by coordinating fashion, then she drops beats at the pool and plays a quick pickup game with her stuffed animals, all followed by a trip to the park. When trouble brews among other kids at the park, who argue over swings and fall short on sharing, Shady steps up. “Shady stands real tall / flashing her famous side-eye. / Then she says to [the kids] / ‘You should give kindness a try.’ ” And they do, even helping Shady in kind when someone steals her toy. It’s all in a day’s work of being fabulous, and before bed, Shady relaxes and settles in for her favorite family snuggles. Laid out in rollicking rhyme, the text sets a pace as energetic as its protagonist, keeping the pages turning and the rhythm bouncing for storytime read-alouds and independent readers alike. Toddler enthusiasm and artful side-eye come to life in Whitaker’s bright, open spreads and saturated color palette, bringing vibrancy to Shady’s many boss moves. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Serving looks and a little bit of shade with every reread. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-305403-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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