Personalities don’t usually change as quickly as Hannah’s does, but the strategy introduced that prompts it is a sound one.

READ REVIEW

HANNAH SPARKLES

HOORAY FOR THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!

A girl with enthusiasm to spare has some trouble making new friends at school, just as she did with a new neighbor in her eponymous debut (2017).

The first few spreads showing Hannah with her family demonstrate that Hannah can be a bit much to take. She “hugs” the mail carrier around the neck from behind, and her glitter bomb doesn’t go over well with her grandmother, who uses a walker. Hannah has strong opinions, and she shares them, often neglecting to listen to others. This means her first day of first grade doesn’t go as she imagined. In fact, it’s pretty miserable. Then Hannah’s teacher encourages her to visit the “refill station,” where she can have some quiet time to “Sit. Think. Refill. Then come try again.” Without classmates to talk to, Hannah is forced to watch and listen, and soon she’s ready to try using those skills with her new friends. While it’s hard to swallow that Hannah shifts modes so easily, the idea of a refill station is one that readers can try on their own or with teacher help. Brantley-Newton’s hand-sketched digital illustrations keep the focus on the characters’ emotions, their faces and body language spot-on. Hannah presents white with brown hair, her class is diverse, and her teacher has light-brown skin and brown hair.

Personalities don’t usually change as quickly as Hannah’s does, but the strategy introduced that prompts it is a sound one. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-232234-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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