Reagandoodle has a new human best friend, Little Buddy, who is being adopted, just as he was, so the dog tells Little Buddy about all of the wonderful things adoption “means”: It means you belong and are loved, you will always have hugs and kisses, a safe place to sleep, and food to eat. Little Buddy’s parents “love [him] much deeper than oceans [and] more than the universe.” From discussions about celebrating Christmas and Easter and praying before dinner, readers will assume Christianity is an important part of this family’s beliefs. Little Buddy and the human members of his family present white in Sparks’ stiff but amiable watercolors. Typical childhood activities such as reading, napping, and selling lemonade are featured in this book consistently. The story is based on the experiences of the author’s grandchild, and photos of the real Reagandoodle and Little Buddy are presented along with the true story of Little Buddy’s journey from foster child to joining his family by adoption. Since this story is one of an older child being adopted and not an infant, this would be an appropriate book for families that have grown through the foster-adopt process.
The dog’s-eye-view perspective makes this a lighthearted choice for explaining adoption.
(Picture book. 4-11)
Rhyming text and colorful multicultural illustrations reassure young readers of God’s omnipresence and still small voice.
“Where in the world is God’s voice found?” Perhaps in ocean waves, bird song, or mountain vistas, suggest the couplet rhymes. Even when readers might be faced with difficult emotions and distractions of all kinds, the text reassures them that God is still there and still speaking, if only one pauses to listen. His voice can be found in nature, in starlight, in the love of family and friends, in dreams, and “through His Word.” Admirably, the bright illustrations, reminiscent of mid-20th-century Disney artist Mary Blair’s stylings, depict children and families with a diverse array of skin tones and ages. There is also a refreshing mix of urban, suburban, and rural settings. Yet, despite the appealing illustrations, the rhymes and scansion are often forced (“your feelings, they matter, / even if they’re all mixed up like / pancake batter”), which detracts from the overall message. Contrived couplets notwithstanding, this title will likely find an audience among Christian households seeking reassuring bedtime reads.
Though the rhyme tumbles and at times bumbles, enticing imagery will lure readers in.
(Picture book. 4-6)
Teaching our daughters how to love themselves is the first step toward the next generation’s owning its power.
It’s heady stuff for a picture book, but it’s never too soon for a woman—even a little woman—to know her worth. Denhollander (the first of sex offender Larry Nassar’s abuse victims to speak out) presents a poetic discourse that resonates beyond its young intended audience. Her simple rhyming couplets speak to the power of image and the messages that shape how we become who we are. The eloquence comes not from the words or phrasing as much as the message as well as the passion. Denhollander, an attorney, a mother, and a former gymnast–turned-coach for a time, delivers stanzas infused with sweet sentimentality as well as fiery fierceness. New artist Huff provides lovely, expressive illustrations depicting girls of many racial presentations in various stages of self-discovery and acceptance. The figures are smiling and cartoonlike, with oversized, round heads and sturdy bodies—though none could be called fat, none exhibits twiglike proportions. Denhollander’s book is unapologetically Christian in approach, with more than one reference to “Him” or a creation by a greater power. With sincerity helping to mitigate occasionally artless text, this is a worthwhile message for young girls who, in an age of shrinking women’s rights, need all the encouragement possible to find their voices and love themselves.
Girls will hear the answer to the titular question.
(Picture book. 4-8)