As readers experience uncertainty, Watkins opens the door to discussion, making this an opportunity for dialogue about an...

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DAD'S CAMERA

A father with Alzheimer’s uses a camera to capture memories for his family.

When Dad brings home an old camera, he takes pictures of objects only. Rolls of film reveal the minutiae of life: jam jars, measuring tape, the bus stop. Knowing his father’s circumstances, the son believes the photos represent what his father wants to remember—yet there are no pictures of himself or his mom. Anger, sadness, and empathy wash over them as they remind themselves of what the doctor said about Dad’s behavior. After Dad passes away, the boy and his mom receive a box in the mail with Dad’s writing on the label. Inside is his camera, with one photo on the roll: a snapshot of a framed picture of their family. Together, mother and son realize Dad’s photos were to help them remember him. Anelli uses monoprints to capture the spontaneity of drawing, mirroring the idea of someone trying to capture an impression of his life. She layers these moments of inspiration with collage, watercolors, and digital coloring. Her free-form lines done with a skillful, controlled hand are at the core of the artwork. Done in a primary palette, the impressionistic illustrations have energy and appeal and are tasteful, raw, and emotional. Mom, Dad, and narrator all have light skin and dark hair.

As readers experience uncertainty, Watkins opens the door to discussion, making this an opportunity for dialogue about an illness that touches the lives of so many today. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0138-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Cool beans indeed.

THE COOL BEAN

A supposed “has-bean” shows that coolness has more to do with deeds than demeanor.

Offering further moral instruction in this leguminous cousin to The Bad Seed (2017) and The Good Egg (2019), Oswald portrays three beans—each a different species but all sporting boss shades, fly threads, and that requisite air of nonchalance—bringing the cool to streets, hallways, playgrounds, and Leguma Beach. Meanwhile, a fourth (a scraggly-haired chickpea), whose efforts to echo the look and the ’tude have fallen flat, takes on the role of nerdy narrator to recall “olden days” when they all hung out in the same pod. Still, despite rolling separate ways (nobody’s fault: “That’s just how it is sometimes. You spend less time together, even though you’re not totally sure why”), when the uncool bean drops a lunch tray, skins a kid knee on the playground, or just needs a hint in class, one of the others is always on the scene toot suite. No biggie. And passing those casual acts of kindness forward? “Now that’s cool.” John’s good-hearted text makes some hay with the bean puns while Oswald’s pipe-stemmed limbs, googly eyes, and accessories give these anthropomorphic legumes lots of personality. As a fava to young audiences, pair with Jamie Michalak and Frank Kolar’s Frank and Bean (2019) for a musical combination.

Cool beans indeed. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-295452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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