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SO MANY CUDDLES

An intimate, low-key variation on a popular theme.

A sweet celebration of a day filled with physical contact, from “rise and shine cuddles” to “sleep tight and good night.”

To Austin’s tally of cuddle possibilities (“We give thank you very much cuddles, I’m so glad you’re my friend cuddles, / and no cuddles at all please. Not right now”), Owen pairs bright, neatly pieced together scenes of a dark-skinned, black-haired child, a gray tabby, and a Saint Bernard sharing moments and feelings. It’s not entirely sunnily saccharine, as the “no cuddles” signals a need to be alone after an (unspecified) offense, and in the next picture the tearful child gets “oops! you had a fall cuddles.” Still, the child’s smile seems both genuine and mostly constant. Apparently intended to act as parental stand-ins, the animal companions are placed (with one exception) next to her in tight compositions, offering attention, sympathetic leans, and the occasional paw while anthropomorphically echoing her body language, facial expressions, even sometimes her actions. Consequently, the whole outing has an abstract flavor that the absence of other humans and the author’s use of a plural narrative voice only underscores. Still, by highlighting the diverse pleasures and rewards of shared contact, while also demonstrating that there are less-invasive alternatives to physical embraces for expressing love and affection, this takes a different angle to the general run of aggressive “let’s have a hug” titles.

An intimate, low-key variation on a popular theme. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-49-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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WOO HOO! YOU'RE DOING GREAT!

WOO-HOO! This is the perfect way to foster healthy self-esteem in little ones.

What’s better than a cheerleading chicken?

Are you ever blue, unsure, tired, or overworked? Do you ever feel lost or overwhelmed? This uplifting book, expressed in delightful, jaunty verse, explains how to lift your spirits pronto: What you need is a booster chicken telling you’re doing great even when you’re not so confident, as when you’re learning or practicing a new skill, for instance. Your feathered champion will be right there, encouraging you all the way, with a loud “WOO HOO!” that’ll keep you going and remove any doubt you’re super terrific. But what if your cheerful chick errs and doesn’t do what it set out to do? Don’t worry—your cheery chicken just needs a reminder that everyone makes mistakes. That alone is a pep talk, enhanced by the wisdom that making mistakes allows everyone to learn and demonstrate they did their best. So forgive yourself, chickens! But the best thing is…instead of relying on someone else—like a chicken—to strengthen your ego, say a generous daily “WOO HOO!” to yourself. This riotous book hits all the right notes and does so succinctly and hilariously. The energetic, comical illustrations, in Boynton’s signature style, will elicit giggles and go far to make the book’s important point. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

WOO-HOO! This is the perfect way to foster healthy self-esteem in little ones. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-316-48679-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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