The materialistic focus limits the audience for this title.

READ REVIEW

BROWN BEAR STARTS SCHOOL

Despite some jitters, Brown Bear not only survives his first day; he helps others succeed as well.

Brown Bear and his family have done everything they can in preparation: goodbyes from his father and older brother, lunchbox packed, money for milk, and a new sweater, scarf, and bookbag. But still, he’s worried: What if the other students don’t like him? What if he can’t hear the teacher? What if he’s not wearing the right clothes? His mother talks him through each worry: Many of his friends will be at school; he will hear her even if she whispers; and if his clothes aren’t right, they’ll go shopping. Sure enough, his friends are at school, and they are all dressed similarly. More importantly, though, Brown Bear keeps his friend safe when their ball goes over the fence and is welcoming when Baby Bunny, who’s new to the area, needs a friend. Troublingly, a major focus seems to be on material things and fitting in. Baby Bunny is quick to explain that while her lunch is in a paper bag, she and her mother are going shopping after school. This will exclude kids who can’t afford the typical back-to-school shopping trip as well as those who march to a different drummer. Aizen’s illustrations are charming, the simple backgrounds and scribbly style reminiscent of a child’s artwork.

The materialistic focus limits the audience for this title. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-0773-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THIS BOOK IS GRAY

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

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

WAY PAST WORRIED

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
more