It follows, perhaps, that the best picture books are those, like this, that beg to be shared, as well.

STORM

Fun for a boy and his grandfather blows in on the winds of a brewing storm.

The fourth in this series of picture books about a boy and his grandfather (Sun, 2018, etc.) once again finds them outside enjoying nature, inspired this time to fly a kite in the blustery wind. Before they head outdoors, they must search the house to find a kite, however. In their searching they come across several things that remind them of prior adventures. This trip down Memory Lane establishes a foundation for their fun flying the kite, which gently tips the story into the realm of fantasy when they and other kite-fliers are lifted into a sky filled with kites of varied colors, patterns, and forms. “We swooped and flew. But then I let go!” exclaims the young narrator at the story’s climax. Luckily, Granddad saves the kite, and then they sail back home on the wind before the storm descends. Throughout, Usher’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations adopt a style similar to Quentin Blake’s, and his shifting use of color, light, and shadow evokes excitement, peril, and finally the safety and security of the kitchen with the storm raging outside. It’s a gentle home-away-home story tied up with a cozy message delivered by Granddad at the end: “The best adventure is an adventure shared.” Both characters present white.

It follows, perhaps, that the best picture books are those, like this, that beg to be shared, as well. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0282-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A visual feast teeming with life.

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A FLOWER?

A young urbanite romps through floral fields and deep into a flower’s anatomy, exploring humanity’s connection to nature.

A solo car travels away from the dense, gray cityscape. Mountains rise up, full of pattern and light, before revealing a fluorescent field of flowers. A child bursts from the car across the page, neon-rainbow hair streaming in the wind, as both child and place radiate joy and life. The brown-skinned, blue-eyed youngster breathes in the meadow and begins an adventure—part Jamberry, part “Thumbelina,” and part existential journey as the child realizes the life force running through the veins of the flower is the same that runs through all of us, from the water that sustains to the sun that grows. Harris’ colored-pencil illustrations are full of energy and spontaneity. His use of patterning and graphic symbology evoke Oaxacan design, yet the style is all his own. The text is equally enthusiastic: “Have you ever seen / a flower so deep / you had to shout / HELLO / and listen for an echo / just to know / how deep it goes?” The text shifts abruptly from metaphor to metaphor, in one spread the flower likened to a palace and a few pages later, to human anatomy. Nevertheless, like the protagonist and the natural environment, readers will feel themselves stretch and bloom.

A visual feast teeming with life. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4521-8270-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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A spot-on description of a child’s babysitter jitters and comforting discussion should calm everyone’s fears.

LLAMA LLAMA MEETS THE BABYSITTER

Will it be your child’s first time with a nonfamily babysitter? Get great advice from Mama Llama.

When Mama Llama must go out one evening and Gramma Llama can’t come instead, Llama Llama worries about who the babysitter will be. Will she be fun? Will she read the books he likes and play games? At first, Llama Llama feels sad, but then he gets mad, so mad his “brain starts to fizz.” Luckily, the doorbell rings, and the babysitter arrives. It’s skunk Molly, whom Llama knows from the ice cream shop and who just happens to have a bag of ice cream sundae samples. When it’s clear the evening is off to a great start, Mama Llama leaves, and Llama Llama and Molly begin a fun-filled time. Llama Llama’s initial emotional reactions to having a babysitter will ring true with children, as will Mama Llama’s explanations as she acknowledges two big concerns head-on. First, even though a babysitter is not the same as having family, Mama Llama clearly states the babysitter “will take good care of you.” To the second—“And what if you do not come back?!”—Mama immediately reassures Llama Llama that she will, reinforcing her commitment when she returns home. The text is done in rhyming couplets, but many near rhymes and an inconsistent meter may hinder reading aloud without practice. As has become expected after Dewdney’s passing, Morrow’s paintings nicely emulate the late author’s style. Endpapers feature before-and-after pictures of yummy sundae ingredients. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 19.6% of actual size.)

A spot-on description of a child’s babysitter jitters and comforting discussion should calm everyone’s fears. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-35033-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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