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From the Nature Quartet series

A great storytime find.

The grandfather and grandchild introduced in Usher’s Free (2021) enjoy a summer day at the beach.

When we last saw this duo, in Lost (2022), the two went sledding on a winter’s day. Now the weather is warmer, and it’s time to head to the seaside. Narrated by the child, the tale brims with excitement, reinforced by beach-related toys, gear, books, and drawings scattered across the title page and first spread. While the story generally hews to the realistic, things eventually turn a bit fantastic, due in large part to the fanciful ink-and-watercolor illustrations. When the grandfather and grandchild build sand castles, a page turn reveals an elaborate grouping of structures in various architectural styles, some towering over Granddad. Later, this imaginative impulse is echoed when they rescue a seal pup caught in some netting and take a perilous sea journey to return it to its family. “And at last we went for our swim,” reads a subsequent understated line accompanying a full-bleed scene of Granddad and his grandchild placidly swimming deep underwater, the former still bespectacled and both fully clothed, though shod in socks and flip-flops, respectively. Gently humorous and wonderfully warm, this tale revels in its depiction of a fun and affectionate intergenerational bond. Granddad and the child present white.

A great storytime find. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 28, 2024

ISBN: 9781536234947

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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