Some of the small, important moments feel smaller than necessary, but the last scene is a tiny, perfect gem.

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BITTER AND SWEET

Little things matter.

Many classic children’s books are shaped around very small, very important moments, and at first Feder’s story might not seem to fit that pattern. This picture book is about a big life change: Hannah is leaving all her friends to move to a new neighborhood. Her grandmother promises her it will be “definitely some bitter but even more sweet.” The story is told through tiny, poignant details. Hannah sees everything she owns packed onto a big truck; she watches her home “disappear from sight” through the window of a car. These moments don’t always have the impact they should, and the final pages of the book feel almost anticlimactic: Hannah’s new neighbor Maya offers her some hot chocolate. And, in fact, the chocolate turns out to be bitter. But Hannah discovers that, when she adds sugar to the powder, it’s delicious. The last few lines of the book are poetic. Hannah tells her grandmother, “I thought it was only bitter here,” and when her grandmother asks if she’s found “the sweet,” Hannah says, “You can’t just find it. You have to add it yourself.” Nothing else in the book quite reaches that level of beauty, though Brooker’s illustrations are a marvel. Her collages seamlessly blend the most basic geometric shapes—circles for heads—with ultra-detailed photographs and are populated with mostly light-skinned characters. Hannah’s family is Jewish.

Some of the small, important moments feel smaller than necessary, but the last scene is a tiny, perfect gem. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-55498-995-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture...

WHEN I PRAY FOR YOU

Turner adds another title to his picture-book series that highlights the miracles in the mundane (When God Made Light, 2018, etc.).

In the vein of children’s-bookshelf stalwart Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Turner’s rhyming text includes both prayers and life advice for a growing child, beginning with infancy and moving on to adolescence. At times the rhyme and meter are strained, muddling meaning and making the tempo feel occasionally awkward when read aloud. Overall, though, the book executes its mission, presenting Christian theological truths within the rhythmic inspirational text. For this third series installment Turner’s text is paired with a new illustrator, whose bright illustrations of wide-eyed children have great shelf appeal. While David Catrow’s previous illustrations in the series featured effervescent black protagonists, the child in Barnes’ illustrations appears white, though she occupies an otherwise diverse world. While illustrated as a prayer from a mother for her daughter, the text itself is gender neutral.

Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture books. (Picture book/religion. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-52565058-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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