This could be a conversation starter about the manifestation of love between an adult-child reading pair…once they’ve parsed...

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT YOU

Farrington’s picture-book debut looks at all the things an adult caregiver loves about a child.

“I love when you / SMILE. // Right before you SING at the top of your lungs,” the narrator asserts. “I love when you’re CREATIVE. // Even when things get MESSY.” A caring adult loves holding hands but also loves when the child lets go to make a friend. The text may be similar to that found in numerous what-I-love-about-you books, but the mixed-media collages are distinctly unlike most in the genre. Photographs of found items, cut and digitally assembled, are placed on white backgrounds. Beautiful natural elements (vegetation, clouds, butterflies) stand out, especially the trees with teardrop-shaped leaves in rainbow hues. But the characters are something else. They may sport clothing and accessories and behave in human ways, but they are not at all human. Some are recognizable animals—a lion on a recumbent bike, for instance—but more are monsterlike creatures or hodgepodges of animal features; a yellow beast with a horselike snout, bug eyes, humanlike torso, and tiny arms and wings illustrates “getting messy,” for example. Readers may not know what to make of these sometimes-ugly beasts, which clash with the message delivered by the text, though they do nicely sidestep typical (and stereotypical) gender and racial depictions.

This could be a conversation starter about the manifestation of love between an adult-child reading pair…once they’ve parsed the attention-getting artwork. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-239353-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

LITTLE RED SLEIGH

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more