From the I See I Learn series

Didacticism tops the charts with Freda, but co-publishing Carlos is on the money. (Picture book. 2-5)

Normally very good at breaking down skills in a way that both teaches and entertains, the I See I Learn series missteps with this entry.

Freda loves playing school and being the teacher, just like Miss Cathy. But when Percy comes to join her, he points out her lack of manners: Miss Cathy “told us that it’s polite to say ‘please’ when you ask for something.” When Freda continues her bossy ways, he plays by himself, joining her when she finally asks politely. Outside, at “recess,” the lessons on being polite continue with “thank you” and “you’re welcome,” but they are couched in a game of catch that is ridiculously polite, to the point of being unbelievable. Scrubba Dub, Carlos, publishing simultaneously, does a better job with its target behavior, teaching children the importance of good hand-washing. When Carlos fails to clean his dirty hands, Miss Cathy leads a discussion on why hand-washing is so important and shows the children the proper hand-washing technique, broken down into flowchart steps on the pages. Unfortunately, rather than use the old standard of “Happy Birthday,” Murphy has children “singing” “One scrubba dub, two scrubba dub…” all the way up to 10. Still, by the end of the book, youngsters will be familiar with both the whys and the hows of hand-washing. Both titles end with a summary and questions.

Didacticism tops the charts with Freda, but co-publishing Carlos is on the money. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58089-474-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013


From the Kissing Hand series

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

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 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014


From the Big Bright Feelings series

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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