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A hopeful, sadly necessary resource for children coping with a caregiver under medical treatment.

Singh and Prabhat combine forces for an unflinchingly honest yet soothing book about a child and his mother’s illness.

Ani’s mother isn’t home, and he is stuck in the dark: “It’s dark. Still dark,” he says, even when morning comes and the sun peeps in through his window. His nani (maternal grandmother) offers him ice cream, but he says nothing. At school, “everything had lost its color.” He rebuffs his friends, seeking solace with his dog, Dobby. When his mother finally does come home, her hair is gone, but “nothing was dark anymore!” and the colors return to the world. Ani relays his fears to his mother—that she might never come back—and she reassures him: “As long as you let others love you…you will be okay.” Ani isn’t sure: “Even if you aren’t there?” he asks. “Yes,” she says. Singh, a professor of psychology, includes an author’s note that stresses the importance of honesty in the face of difficult situations, from illness to divorce to death. Prabhat’s illustrations set the story in India and deftly capture Ani’s darkness and lightness with both perspective and palette. Bird’s-eye views of Ani from directly overhead emphasize his powerlessness while a cloud of darkness that surrounds him effectively captures his unhappiness; a two-page spread detailing Ani’s despair is particularly powerful.

A hopeful, sadly necessary resource for children coping with a caregiver under medical treatment. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3277-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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