No matter how often children open this book, they’ll always discover something new.

READ REVIEW

MRS BIBI'S ELEPHANT

It would be possible to believe that Iranian author/illustrator Dalvand spent a lifetime painting this picture book.

Almost any page of this story contains enough characters to fill another book—but not necessarily the same book. A decorated military man might have come off the album cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. A woman in red resembles Carmen Sandiego. Few of the characters have quite the same skin tone; some of the colors on the artist’s palette may not even occur in nature. But in a way, all of these townspeople are the main characters here. The entire population of Mrs Bibi’s neighborhood thinks she should give up her pet elephant and focus on something sensible, like the newspaper or the stock market. Their closed-mindedness is comically cartoonish. Mrs Bibi leaves the book with her elephant surprisingly early, taking some of the drama with her even as those left behind come to understand what they’ve lost. But at moments, the story achieves the elegant simplicity of a fable—or, perhaps, a lost chapter of The Little Prince. Many readers will feel liberated by the ending, in which every child gets a new pet, but the real appeal is in the impossible details. A house is covered—like a quilt—with an elaborate floral pattern. The capital R in the type even resembles a tiny elephant.

No matter how often children open this book, they’ll always discover something new. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-912497-16-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Gently encourages empathy, compassion, and consideration.

TOMORROW I'LL BE KIND

How will you behave tomorrow?

Utilizing the same format and concept of her popular Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave (2018), Hische presents young listeners with short, studied rhymes that describe various positive attributes (being helpful, patient, gentle, honest, generous, graceful, and kind). Also included are kid-friendly ways to incorporate these behaviors into daily life, with the underlying goal of making the world a better place. The illustrations, which feature friends in the forms of a mouse, cat, and rabbit, are colorful and appealing, and they extend the text by showing some additional ways of realizing the characteristics mentioned. Overall, the intentions are aboveboard, but this is a volume intended to teach about positive values and behavior, and as such, it comes across as somewhat treacly and proselytizing. The key words, incorporated into the illustrations in a graphic manner, are sometimes a bit difficult to read, and occasionally, select vocabulary and phrases (“to myself I will be true”; “my heart, my guiding light”) seem better suited for an older readership. Still, as an introduction to personality characteristics, beneficial behaviors, and social-emotional skills, this is a solid choice, and fans of the previous volume are likely to embrace this one as well. “I’ll dream of all the good that comes / when we all just do our best,” the text explains—a sentiment that’s hard to rebut.

Gently encourages empathy, compassion, and consideration. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-8704-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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