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BEST FRIENDS, BUSY FRIENDS

A fun read-aloud beat, but the illustrations shine.

An ode to friendship.

Two siblings, presumed twins since they are in the same class and (spoiler alert) share a birthday in the end, go about their day and meet all kinds of friends. An animated tempo carries them through. With a yawn and stretch in the morning (“Our friends, best friends / those who wake us up friends!”); playful classroom antics in between (“Singing friends, dancing friends / hopping, skipping, jumping friends”); and a stop in the park after school (“Furry friends, feathered friends / lots of very hungry friends”), these two tots have a busy day. True to life, not all aspects of friendship are positive: A recess spread shows one child snatching the ball from another (“Funny friends, silly friends / sometimes not so kind friends”), but the rhythm bounces merrily along past any small squabbles. While not discrediting the good intentions of the text, the laundry list of friendship doesn’t add much to the conversation. The illustrations, however, show a peek into a truly varied and diverse set of friends. Children of many races are represented, along with one child of color in a wheelchair (throughout the entire story) and another child of color using a white cane. Even the adults, in various teacher and parent roles, show a wide representation. The protagonist pair have olive skin and straight, black hair, in contrast with their White-appearing dad. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 19.4% of actual size.)

A fun read-aloud beat, but the illustrations shine. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78628-466-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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RUBY FINDS A WORRY

From the Big Bright Feelings series

A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their...

Ruby is an adventurous and happy child until the day she discovers a Worry.

Ruby barely sees the Worry—depicted as a blob of yellow with a frowny unibrow—at first, but as it hovers, the more she notices it and the larger it grows. The longer Ruby is affected by this Worry, the fewer colors appear on the page. Though she tries not to pay attention to the Worry, which no one else can see, ignoring it prevents her from enjoying the things that she once loved. Her constant anxiety about the Worry causes the bright yellow blob to crowd Ruby’s everyday life, which by this point is nearly all washes of gray and white. But at the playground, Ruby sees a boy sitting on a bench with a growing sky-blue Worry of his own. When she invites the boy to talk, his Worry begins to shrink—and when Ruby talks about her own Worry, it also grows smaller. By the book’s conclusion, Ruby learns to control her Worry by talking about what worries her, a priceless lesson for any child—or adult—conveyed in a beautifully child-friendly manner. Ruby presents black, with hair in cornrows and two big afro-puff pigtails, while the boy has pale skin and spiky black hair.

A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their feelings (. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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