If it’s sugary-sweet stories you like, then this is your jam.

MALINA'S JAM

From the Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase series

This entry in the Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase, which publishes the books of Disney animators, is about a tea-loving, raspberry-eating bibliophile hedgehog.

Malina is shy and spends more time with her raspberry patch and books than with other creatures. Having built herself an impressive collection of preserved raspberry jam, she learns that her neighbors want to try some and ends up giving it all away. Her new friends return the favor by giving her some of their own favorite snacks as well as by helping her grow more raspberries, thereby replenishing her favorite treat and forging new friendships. Though the story concept and illustrations come from a Disney animator, the text comes from co-author Sauer, who uses simple sentences and repetition to build a tightly constructed story. There’s an overt sweetness to the illustrations, with the kind of bright-eyed, curly-lashed characters one sees in animated Disney films. Malina is an endearing character, though there’s not much else about this story and its execution that distinguishes it from other picture books about friendship and generosity. Disney fans may be interested in seeing an animator switch forms. Appended is a note from the illustrator about her background in animation and why she was happy to try her hand at a picture book. Also appended is a jam recipe—with a reminder to share.

If it’s sugary-sweet stories you like, then this is your jam. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02458-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Fans of this popular series will find this a rewarding addition to family Easter celebrations.

GOD GAVE US EASTER

From the God Gave Us You series

Bergren and Bryant attempt to explain Easter to young children in a gentle, nonthreatening manner, with partial success.

When Little Cub questions her father about Easter, Papa Bear explains the religious significance of the holiday in various symbolic ways to his cub. He uses familiar things from their world, such as an egg and a fallen tree, to draw parallels with aspects of the Christian story. Papa Bear discusses his close relationships with Jesus and God, encouraging Little Cub to communicate with God on her own. The theme focuses on the renewal of life and the positive aspects of loving God and Jesus. Easter is presented as a celebration of eternal life, but the story skirts the issue of the crucifixion entirely. Some adults will find this an inadequate or even dishonest approach to the Easter story, but others will appreciate the calm and soothing text as a way to begin to understand a difficult subject. Bryant’s charming watercolor illustrations of the polar bear family, their cozy home and snowy forest scenes add to the overall mellow effect.

Fans of this popular series will find this a rewarding addition to family Easter celebrations. (Religion/picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-73072-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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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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