A warm, quiet ode to imagination.

I SEE YOU SEE

Siblings dream up extraordinary sights while walking their dog.

When Mom asks Maisie to walk their dog, Tinker, sibling Jonah—who uses a manual wheelchair and wears leg braces—asks to come along. So, the text rhythmically relates, “dog pulling, / Maisie pushing, / they set off.” But it’s not long before the rambunctious pup runs off after a cat. As Maisie wrangles Tinker, Jonah points out some unexpected sights. A tree becomes a “tree of cats” as feline faces take shape in the leaves; puffy orange flowers become a “popsicle garden.” The typeface jangles with a “bong, bong, bong” as Jonah pulls the dangling leaves of a “bell machine” tree, and it fades as they enter an “echo-y-y-y-y-y” tunnel of hanging laundry. The frazzled Maisie slowly joins in Jonah’s play, pointing out dinosaur-shaped clouds walking on “stilts” made of pointy trees. As they return to their starting point, Jonah wonders what Tinker sees. As Jonah blows on a just-picked bouquet, Maisie replies, “Oh, the goldfish… / …the goldfish snowing,” and they laugh beneath an orange flurry of fish and flower petals. Reality and imagination subtly intertwine in Barton’s bright, soft-edged illustrations. The children’s smiling faces are inviting, and Tinker’s mischievous antics add a humorous note. Though simple, the plot feels comfortably lived in; Maisie and Jonah’s interactions are delightfully ordinary, and refreshingly, Jonah’s disability requires no explanation. Maisie and Jonah present White. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45.5% of actual size.)

A warm, quiet ode to imagination. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9200-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history.

WOODLAND DREAMS

A sonorous, soporific invitation to join woodland creatures in bedding down for the night.

As in her Moon Babies, illustrated by Amy Hevron (2019), Jameson displays a rare gift for harmonious language and rhyme. She leads off with a bear: “Come home, Big Paws. / Berry picker / Honey trickster / Shadows deepen in the glen. / Lumber back inside your den.” Continuing in the same pattern, she urges a moose (“Velvet Nose”), a deer (“Tiny Hooves”), and a succession of ever smaller creatures to find their nooks and nests as twilight deepens in Boutavant’s woodsy, autumnal scenes and snow begins to drift down. Through each of those scenes quietly walks an alert White child (accompanied by an unusually self-controlled pooch), peering through branches or over rocks at the animals in the foregrounds and sketching them in a notebook. The observer’s turn comes round at last, as a bearded parent beckons: “This way, Small Boots. / Brave trailblazer / Bright stargazer / Cabin’s toasty. Blanket’s soft. / Snuggle deep in sleeping loft.” The animals go unnamed, leaving it to younger listeners to identify each one from the pictures…if they can do so before the verses’ murmurous tempo closes their eyes.

Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7063-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Too many bugs, figuratively.

LUCY'S LIGHT

Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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