New-to-preschool tots will find a kindred spirit in both adventurous spirit and emotional development.


From the Billie's Super-Duper Adventures series

Billie B. Brown continues to learn preschool lessons in this trim, little series (Billie’s Underwater Adventure, 2016, etc.).

Billie doesn’t eat much breakfast, so her stomach is “growly and grumbly.” Luckily there is a brand new bakery stand in the classroom—made from a cardboard box—where she can bake delectable treats with her friends Jack and Emily (all three friends are white in this outing). There are many hungry toys waiting for a bite of something sweet. With a pinch of sugar, a few cups of flour, and a hefty dose of imagination, Billie and Jack make delicious “button buns” that the customers love. But Emily is jealous. So she whips up a three-tiered berry confection that leaves everyone in awe. Caught in a cycle of one-upmanship, Billie and Jack try to make “pinkle-dough muffins,” but instead of measuring carefully, they rush to be the best and end up with a pinkle-dough explosion instead. In a simultaneous publication, Billie’s Wild Jungle Adventure (2016), Billie and Jack get caught in another imaginative (yet not quite as much fun) escapade involving a pretend snake in the preschool’s backyard. Larger, italicized type in both volumes highlights intriguing vocabulary, and Billie never fails to have a “super-duper idea” to save the day.

New-to-preschool tots will find a kindred spirit in both adventurous spirit and emotional development. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61067-554-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.


From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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