Message-laden but creative spin on finding a trusted adult.

READ REVIEW

TILLY'S BIG PROBLEM

From the Emotions in Motion series

Tilly has a problem in her life and does not know where to turn for help.

With sprightly, purple pigtails and colorful, mismatched fashion, Tilly looks like a joyful young tot. But something is making her sad and worried. When she confides in Ned, her best friend, his advice is sound: “A big person can help when you have a big, huge, enormous problem like this.” But whom should Tilly tell? Armed with binoculars, a watch, a notebook, and a pencil—along with a few lollipops for energy—Tilly and Ned set off on a secret mission to observe the adults around them, carefully noting who might be a good listener. Four candidates are chosen, all who work at the school. Each adult finds an anonymous note asking how they might help with a big problem. Based on the responses, Tilly is able to choose the perfect confidant (epistolary communication is an added bonus). The narrative focuses on Tilly and Ned, who are both white, along with each of the four adults, but even in the crowd shots, there is only one hint at slightly darker skin. Exemplary points for tackling a tough issue but not for inclusion.

Message-laden but creative spin on finding a trusted adult. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-76036-018-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Aims high but falls flat.

WILD SYMPHONY

Through 20 short poems, Maestro Mouse invites readers to meet a series of animals who have lessons to impart and a symphony to perform.

Brown, author of The DaVinci Code (2003) and other wildly popular titles for adults, here offers young listeners a poetry collection accompanied by music: a “symphony” performed, for readers equipped with an audio device and an internet connection, by the Zagreb Festival Orchestra. From the introduction of the conductor and the opening “Woodbird Welcome” to the closing “Cricket Lullaby,” the writer/composer uses poems made of three to eight rhyming couplets, each line with four strong beats, to introduce the animals who will be revealed in the final double gatefold as the players in an all-animal orchestra. Each poem also contains a lesson, reinforced by a short message (often on a banner or signpost). Thus, “When life trips them up a bit, / Cats just make the best of it” concludes the poem “Clumsy Kittens,” which is encapsulated by “Falling down is part of life. The best thing to do is get back on your feet!” The individual songs and poems may appeal to the intended audience, but collectively they don’t have enough variety to be read aloud straight through. Nor does the gathering of the orchestra provide a narrative arc. Batori’s cartoon illustrations are whimsically engaging, however. They include puzzles: hard-to-find letters that are said to form anagrams of instrument names and a bee who turns up somewhere in every scene.

Aims high but falls flat. (Complete composition not available for review.) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12384-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced.

BIRD HUGS

Watch out, Hug Machine (Scott Campbell, 2014), there’s another long-limbed lover of squeezes in the mix.

Bernard, a tiny, lavender bird, dejectedly sits atop a high branch. His wings droop all the way to the ground. Heaving a sigh, his disappointment is palpable. With insufferably long wings, he has never been able to fly. All of his friends easily took to the skies, leaving him behind. There is nothing left to do but sit in his tree and feel sorry for himself. Adamson amusingly shows readers the passage of time with a sequence of vignettes of Bernard sitting in the rain, the dark, and amid a cloud of paper wasps—never moving from his branch. Then one day he hears a sob and finds a tearful orangutan. Without even thinking, Bernard wraps his long wings around the great ape. The orangutan is comforted! Bernard has finally found the best use of his wings. In gentle watercolor and pencil sketches, Adamson slips in many moments of humor. Animals come from all over to tell Bernard their troubles (a lion muses that it is “lonely at the top of the food chain” while a bat worries about missing out on fun during the day). Three vertical spreads that necessitate a 90-degree rotation add to the fun.

Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9271-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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