Muddled messages overwhelm endearing illustrations in this friendship tale.


From the Rosie and Rasmus series

The sequel to Rosie and Rasmus (2019) finds Rasmus, a small dragon with short wings, facing bullying and loneliness in his new home.

When Rasmus reaches “the island where the dragons live,” he receives a harsh welcome. In speech-balloon dialogue, much-bigger dragons mock his stature, small wings, and lack of horns, sneering, “Keep on walking, baby monster.” His amusingly unsuccessful attempts to roar, kick rocks, and breathe fire (as a similarly small-winged dragon watches covertly) make him first sad, then angry. He fires off a note to Rosie, his human pal, denying their friendship because Rosie hasn’t visited. As in the previous book, Rasmus is primarily an object of Rosie’s help. Rosie sails to the island and delivers a pep talk, concluding that the only difference between Rasmus and the others is his kind heart. As the pair play and celebrate, the other small-winged dragon asks to join. After some kite flying, the new pals say goodbye to Rosie, “a treasured [friend].” Another dragon watches with interest, hinting at another friendship. With soft edges and close perspective, Geddes’ pastel-hued illustrations sympathetically express Rasmus’ anger, sadness, and joy. However, Rasmus’ passivity offers little encouragement to similarly lonely readers. His friendship with Rosie remains uneven, and her pivotal ice-breaking risks implying that Rasmus wouldn’t have made his new friends without her—good thing she knows how to sail! Rosie is white.

Muddled messages overwhelm endearing illustrations in this friendship tale. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9876-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one.


Brock may be dressed like a superhero, but he sure doesn’t feel like one, as social anxieties threaten to rain on his fun    .

Juan’s superhero-themed birthday party is about to start, but Brock is feeling trepidatious about attending without his brother as his trusty sidekick. His costume does not fit quite right, and he is already running late, and soon Brock is “way past worried.” When he arrives at the party he takes some deep breaths but is still afraid to jump in and so hides behind a tree. Hiding in the same tree is the similarly nervous Nelly, who’s new to the neighborhood. Through the simple act of sharing their anxieties, the children find themselves ready to face their fears. This true-to-life depiction of social anxiety is simply but effectively rendered. While both Nelly and Brock try taking deep breathes to calm their anxieties without success, it is the act of sharing their worries in a safe space with someone who understands that ultimately brings relief. With similar themes, Brock’s tale would make a lovely companion for Tom Percival’s Ruby Finds a Worry (2019) on social-emotional–development bookshelves. Brock is depicted with black hair and tan skin, Nelly presents White, and peers at the party appear fairly diverse.

Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8686-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet