Though she breaks little new ground, Harris attacks a common childhood anxiety with her customary smarts and bracing lack of...

READ REVIEW

TURTLE AND ME

Mussed, chewed, torn, stained—no matter what condition this stuffed animal is in, it remains dearly loved.

From the day he was born, a little unnamed boy has been inseparable from his stuffed Turtle. Now he’s much older, and Turtle’s a bit worse for the wear, having survived spaghetti sauce, a dog’s savage attack, vomit and a brief period of abandonment in the park. Yet it’s a fight with a friend who insists that Turtle’s “a BABY thing!” that almost proves the ungendered toy’s undoing. The boy attempts to go to bed without his childhood companion but finds himself unable to sleep. It takes his father’s intervention to show him how even big boys need their beloved toys from time to time. Wrestling with the desire to be “big” against the equal need for comfort is a rite of passage many children can relate to. Freeman’s images of the porkpie-hatted Turtle show the stuffed animal blessedly free of any emotions save his perpetually cheery smile. The wordless last image of the boy reunited with his friend while his mother fixes Turtle (yet again) will assuage many readers’ fears.

Though she breaks little new ground, Harris attacks a common childhood anxiety with her customary smarts and bracing lack of sentiment. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0046-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations.

I BELIEVE I CAN

Diversity is the face of this picture book designed to inspire confidence in children.

Fans of Byers and Bobo’s I Am Enough (2018) will enjoy this book that comes with a universal message of self-acceptance. A line of children practices ballet at the barre; refreshingly, two of the four are visibly (and adorably) pudgy. Another group tends a couple of raised beds; one of them wears hijab. Two more children coax a trepidatious friend down a steep slide. Further images, of children pretending to be pirates, dragons, mimes, playing superhero and soccer, and cooking, are equally endearing, but unfortunately they don’t add enough heft to set the book apart from other empowerment books for children. Though the illustrations shine, the text remains pedagogic and bland. Clichés abound: “When I believe in myself, there’s simply nothing I can’t do”; “Sometimes I am right, and sometimes I am wrong. / But even when I make mistakes, I learn from them to make me strong.” The inclusion of children with varying abilities, religions, genders, body types, and racial presentations creates an inviting tone that makes the book palatable. It’s hard to argue with the titular sentiment, but this is not the only book of its ilk on the shelf.

Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266713-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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