From little variations in habit, big changes occur, and everyone seems happier, including young readers.



“This is my town, / simple and typical. / Each house has a door, / two windows, a red roof / —all so predictable.”

The unseen inhabitants follow suit: “At sundown, the neighbors close their shutters—goodnight! / At daybreak, they open them—oh so polite.” The identical houses, created in what appears to be digital collage and arranged in a geometric grid, give the initial pages a quiltlike appearance, the compositions flat but appealing. “But then one night…someone leaves on their light! / And in the morning, what a shock! / The shutters are sealed tight!” The neighbors gossip about this “irksome behavior,” but soon the rebel leaves. The house falls into disrepair, and the town destroys it. They eventually come back, with architectural elements gathered from the world over, and construct a “comical” house with a Russian onion dome, Dutch windmill vanes, and the upturned eaves of a Japanese temple roof, all above similarly disparate features. Yes, some of the elements are stereotypical, but the “oddball’s” creativity starts the ball rolling. Beginning with blue shutters on one house, everyone starts innovating. There’s “an open-air bathroom” and “a house made of sticks.” The houses grow ever more idiosyncratic, and soon the comical house doesn’t stand out at all. This translation from the French, told in simple rhyme, will inspire young architects to think outside the box.

From little variations in habit, big changes occur, and everyone seems happier, including young readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63206-189-8

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Restless Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...


A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.


A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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