An appealing story for young children that nicely demonstrates confronting and overcoming challenges.


Willy Earns His Wings

A young bird overcomes his fears and learns how to fly in this debut illustrated children’s book.

Willy, a little sparrow, lives with his parents and siblings in a warm, cozy nest. When the day comes for the young sparrows’ first flying lesson, they are all excited—all but Willy. The truth is, he’s afraid to fly, no matter how many times his parents encourage him, telling him how much fun he could have. And this is a problem, because the autumn migration looms. Willy’s mother takes her brood to The Fine Feathers Flying School, where Capt. Featherblower—equipped with leather cap, goggles, and an aviator’s white scarf—instructs all the young birds. But when it’s Willy’s turn, he just falls off the runway. With all his friends laughing at him, Willy decides he’d rather walk than fly. Meeting some ducklings and a rabbit, Willy thinks it might be more fun to swim or run fast as they do. But he finds the pond water cold. He fails to keep up with his rabbit friend—and finally realizes that it’s getting very late for dinner. Willy, now understanding that only flying will get him home on time, gains new determination to face his fears and try again. He discovers not only that he can fly, but that it’s just as much fun as everyone said. In her debut book, Smith draws on her experience as a psychotherapist to address children’s fears about trying their wings. Willy’s first flying lesson shows how focusing on failure can create it: “Instead of watching where he was supposed to go, Willy kept looking fearfully into the sky above.” While pointing out Willy’s evasions and anxieties, Smith never makes fun of them. Success isn’t effortless for Willy—he really has to work at flying as well as facing his fear—but the book does a superb job of showing the rewards in Willy’s newfound independence. The writing avoids didacticism and remains lively and amusing, helped out by Martin’s expressively comic, charming illustrations.

An appealing story for young children that nicely demonstrates confronting and overcoming challenges.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9912964-7-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Expert Author Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.


From the There’s a…in Your Book series

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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