A cute take on the immigrant experience that will appeal to young readers who themselves feel different.

CHEE-KEE

A PANDA IN BEARLAND

Like many immigrants, Chee-Kee Loo the panda feels out of place when he first moves to Bearland with his family.

Drawing from her parents’ own experiences moving from South Korea to the United States, Rim recounts an abridged version of the often told immigration story. Even though the bears in Bearland are welcoming and friendly, little Chee-Kee can’t “help noticing that he was just so…different” and feels he “won’t ever fit in.” In this new place, bears use forks, but Chee-Kee uses chopsticks or eats with his hands; sunglasses are the norm, but he wears a conical sun hat; kites are diamond-shaped, but his is rectangular. Mr. and Mrs. Loo, on the other hand, make the best of the situation. When a little bear cub tells them, “You look funny!” Mrs. Loo replies, “Oh, thank you. You look funny too! How lovely.” One day, Chee-Kee is sitting in his favorite tree when some local bears get themselves into a fix. Chee-Kee springs into action. He realizes that because he’s different, he’s able to save the day. Channeling Japanese sumi-e ink painting and Chinese brush painting in combination with other mixed media, Rim reproduces the energetic, quirky style of her Birdie books. She creates a whimsical world where bears in every shape, color, and size live happily together.

A cute take on the immigrant experience that will appeal to young readers who themselves feel different. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-40744-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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