Entertaining and instructive for the playground set.

READ REVIEW

BALL & BALLOON

Sitting still on the ground, alone, Ball wishes he could soar like Balloon. Suddenly he’s thrown, bounced, rolled, passed, and kicked in a fantastic playground pickup game, and he sees what’s fantastic about being himself.

Children encounter other crucial lifelong lessons in this engaging picture book about two simple objects that give young people unending pleasure. Apostrophic lines give Ball and Balloon expressions children can easily interpret: embarrassment, smugness, surprise, pride, exhilaration, discouragement, love, satisfaction, and reciprocity. When Ball tries to roll and bounce on his own but can’t, Balloon taunts from above, calling, “The sky’s the limit.…Ta-ta, Ball!” Both Ball’s impotent dejection and Balloon’s glib gloating (so vividly depicted in distilled language and nuanced facial expressions against a white backdrop) arrive as arrows to readers’ hearts, which will recognize both feelings as their own. Digitally compiled mixed-media illustrations offer varied perspectives, from way above the basketball hoop to down at the asphalt, as well as lots of movement, with Ball whizzing and Balloon floating. The cleanliness and clarity of these illustrations facilitate a focus on feelings. Children glean fundamental lessons in empathy, navigating exhilaration and sadness, and the importance of helping others while riding out Ball’s and Balloon’s emotional (and literal) highs and lows.

Entertaining and instructive for the playground set. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2562-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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