This winter sports portrayal is a fine and attractive addition to the season’s preschool collection.

READ REVIEW

A DAY FOR SKATING

A child and their parent enjoy a wintry skating outing while other skaters of varying degrees of ability and expertise surround them.

When the child takes a few skating steps, slides, turns, and promptly falls, the parent moves in to help and gently assure that falling is part of learning. A break taken in the snack-bar hut provides warmth, hot cocoa, and sandwiches. Later, another whirl around the pond together comes to a close with skates coming off and a ride home to a bath and cozy bedtime routine. The lively, brief rhyming text outlines the story’s sequence as it depicts the adjoining scenes. “Good friends gliding in a row. / Holding on and letting go. // Hockey sticks go clatter-clack. / Figure skaters stay on track. // Couples waltz. Children race / Happy people. Happy place.” Lovely drawings with simple details, done digitally and using watercolors and colored pencil, move the verse from a brisk, snow-covered day scene to the deeper purple hues of a winter dusk and a final, deeper blue when nighttime creatures enjoy the frozen pond. Though the protagonist and parent present white, multiracial representation is evident throughout the skating community.

This winter sports portrayal is a fine and attractive addition to the season’s preschool collection. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9686-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Banal affirmation buoyed by charming illustrations.

I BELIEVE I CAN

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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