A delightful story about the celebration of individuality and friendship.

BE A FRIEND

An ordinary boy with an unusual hobby makes a new friend through extraordinary means.

In a departure from her playful animal characters, Yoon turns her talent toward friendship between young children. Sporting top hat, black-and-white–striped shirt, and white stage makeup, Dennis does not express himself like most children. While his classmates speak during show and tell, he mimes instead. His communication style isolates Dennis from other children. One lonely day, though, he kicks an imaginary ball into the path of a kindred spirit and discovers the world of friendship. While the book can be taken as an introduction to mime, its message focuses on embracing each person’s uniqueness by learning how he or she communicates. For children who are just noticing how their friends are different from them, Dennis’ experience is a launchpad for discussions of individuality. Yoon’s lively illustrations will encourage young readers to mime along with Dennis. Her use of red dotted lines to depict each pantomime will allow children to fill in the blanks using their imaginations. Adults will enjoy her eye for details, including a poster of Marcel Marceau in Dennis’ wardrobe.

A delightful story about the celebration of individuality and friendship. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61963-951-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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WE ARE IN A BOOK!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Stalwart friends Piggie and Gerald the elephant push the metafictive envelope in a big way when they realize that "someone is looking at us." Is it a monster? worries Gerald. "No," replies the squinting Piggie. "It is... / a reader! / A reader is reading us!" How? wonders Gerald. Piggie drapes herself on a word bubble to demonstrate: "We are in a book!" "THAT IS SO COOL!" Joy leads to a little bit of clever practical joking—Piggie figures out how to make the readers say "banana" out loud, and hilarity ensues—which gives way to existential angst: "The book ends?!" exclaims an appalled Gerald. Emergent readers just beginning to grapple one-on-one with the rules of the printed codex will find the friends' antics both funny and provocative: Just who is in control here, anyway? As always, Willems displays his customary control of both body language and pacing even as he challenges his readers to engage with his characters and the physicality of their book . The friends' solution to the book's imminent end? "Hello. Will you please read us again?" You bet. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3308-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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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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