The slightly didactic message of tolerance and inclusiveness is made palatable by the gardening analogy, and this book will...

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HOW TO GROW A FRIEND

This attractive picture book for the very young from accomplished illustrator and debut author Gillingham explores a thoughtful analogy between gardening and friendship.

The parallels between growing things and making new friends are illustrated with simple instructions, matched with Gillingham’s pastel-shaded woodcut-and-collaged illustrations. Just like seeds and plants, friendships need to be sown, tended and cultivated. “A friend needs water… / warm sunshine… // and space to bloom.” It is a two-way process: “To grow a friend, talk / and listen”; “Good friends stand by each other in rain / or shine.” With friendships, as with flowers, things can go wrong: “Sometimes a friend bugs you.” (Bugs literally buzz around their heads on a page where the friends are wrestling for control of a potted plant.) But “[t]o grow a friend, / chase the bugs away together!” The girl finds a solution to their argument by giving the boy a ride in a wheelbarrow. A subtly diverse selection of kids and adults are portrayed enjoying one another’s company and working together to cultivate their gardens. Children, flowers, birds, trees and seasons are skillfully illustrated using multicolored patterns and shapes that will have considerable visual appeal for preschoolers.

The slightly didactic message of tolerance and inclusiveness is made palatable by the gardening analogy, and this book will encourage young friendships to bloom. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37669-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original...

A KISSING HAND FOR CHESTER RACCOON

From the Kissing Hand series

A sweetened, condensed version of the best-selling picture book, The Kissing Hand.

As in the original, Chester Raccoon is nervous about attending Owl’s night school (raccoons are nocturnal). His mom kisses him on the paw and reminds him, “With a Kissing Hand… / We’ll never be apart.” The text boils the story down to its key elements, causing this version to feel rushed. Gone is the list of fun things Chester will get to do at school. Fans of the original may be disappointed that this board edition uses a different illustrator. Gibson’s work is equally sentimental, but her renderings are stiff and flat in comparison to the watercolors of Harper and Leak. Very young readers will probably not understand that Owl’s tree, filled with opossums, a squirrel, a chipmunk and others, is supposed to be a school.

Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original shouldn’t look to this version as replacement for their page-worn copies. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-933718-77-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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