To quote one of many exuberant, action-packed spreads: “Enjoy the ride!” (Picture book. 4-8)

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THE BEST BOOK IN THE WORLD

Adding to a growing genre, this picture book shouts—no, hollers at the top of its lungs—praise to the codex.

The very title, along with the bold primary colors and enormous (fake) prize medal on the cover, will be an opportunity for young children to gleefully answer the question, “What book are you reading?” The sparse, large-print text begins with a double-page spread that says on the verso, “Take the first step,” and on the recto, “Turn the first page.” The pictures quickly and cleverly move from depicting relatively realistic reading nooks to the places readers go in their imaginations. Both the crazy-quilt pattern of the endpapers and the interior pages are filled with brightly colored, geometric creatures and people actively engaged in activities such as sky diving, enjoying amusement-park rides, trekking across deserts and spelunking. In addition to the gently rhythmic near-rhymes that encourage readers to plunge themselves into books, the other common thread through the kaleidoscope of pulsating scenes is the stylized image of a child (probably a girl), always colored red, always with ponytails, always clutching her book. Although there is a slight calming toward the end, excitement reigns, right up to the gently mind-bending metafictive moment that concludes the book.

To quote one of many exuberant, action-packed spreads: “Enjoy the ride!” (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-909263-30-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite.

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AFTER THE FALL (HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN)

Humpty Dumpty, classically portrayed as an egg, recounts what happened after he fell off the wall in Santat’s latest.

An avid ornithophile, Humpty had loved being atop a high wall to be close to the birds, but after his fall and reassembly by the king’s men, high places—even his lofted bed—become intolerable. As he puts it, “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Although fear bars Humpty from many of his passions, it is the birds he misses the most, and he painstakingly builds (after several papercut-punctuated attempts) a beautiful paper plane to fly among them. But when the plane lands on the very wall Humpty has so doggedly been avoiding, he faces the choice of continuing to follow his fear or to break free of it, which he does, going from cracked egg to powerful flight in a sequence of stunning spreads. Santat applies his considerable talent for intertwining visual and textual, whimsy and gravity to his consideration of trauma and the oft-overlooked importance of self-determined recovery. While this newest addition to Santat’s successes will inevitably (and deservedly) be lauded, younger readers may not notice the de-emphasis of an equally important part of recovery: that it is not compulsory—it is OK not to be OK.

A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-682-6

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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