Rough around the edges, but readers still llearning their lletters will enjoy the elementary wordplay promoted by these...



A pink llama and a blue alpaca find common ground in this orthographically themed friendship story.

Just as Lloyd Llama loves everything with a double “l,” from “lollipops” to “cello,” Al Alpaca grooves on “apples, art, air guitar” and anything else that starts with “a.” Initially contentious, their relationship undergoes a transformation when they discover with a pair of sneezes that they both have “allergies”…and go on to discover a mutual fondness for “alligator shoes,” baking “allspice cakes,” and biking down “alleyways.” This tale of togetherness, though as fuzzy as the matted pelts of its principals, is marred by inconsistencies. Drawn with rumpled anthropomorphism in Jones’ palely colored cartoon illustrations, Lloyd and Al look young and energetic in some scenes but in others, more like a baggy-eyed old couple. Moreover, the narrative starts off in prose but then breaks into labored rhyme: “When choosing between action or thriller, they simply could not agree. / While Al enjoyed toast with apricot jam, Lloyd preferred grape jelly.” The “ll”s and initial “a”s are printed in pink and blue respectively, though some “a”s go unremarked. Jones adds lots of additional examples of the favored letters in background signs and other details.

Rough around the edges, but readers still llearning their lletters will enjoy the elementary wordplay promoted by these pastel pals. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-936669-32-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations.


Diversity is the face of this picture book designed to inspire confidence in children.

Fans of Byers and Bobo’s I Am Enough (2018) will enjoy this book that comes with a universal message of self-acceptance. A line of children practices ballet at the barre; refreshingly, two of the four are visibly (and adorably) pudgy. Another group tends a couple of raised beds; one of them wears hijab. Two more children coax a trepidatious friend down a steep slide. Further images, of children pretending to be pirates, dragons, mimes, playing superhero and soccer, and cooking, are equally endearing, but unfortunately they don’t add enough heft to set the book apart from other empowerment books for children. Though the illustrations shine, the text remains pedagogic and bland. Clichés abound: “When I believe in myself, there’s simply nothing I can’t do”; “Sometimes I am right, and sometimes I am wrong. / But even when I make mistakes, I learn from them to make me strong.” The inclusion of children with varying abilities, religions, genders, body types, and racial presentations creates an inviting tone that makes the book palatable. It’s hard to argue with the titular sentiment, but this is not the only book of its ilk on the shelf.

Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266713-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...


Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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