At the satisfying conclusion of this original tale, the robbers run away leaving Sean and Brian, now friends for life, in...

THE LEPRECHAUN UNDER THE BED

Mischief ensues when Sean, a human, accidentally builds his cottage over the home of Brian, a leprechaun.

Brian awakens Sean nightly with his cobbling. Before the man can find him, Brian lulls him back to sleep saying, “Now don’t you be fretting your wee little head. It’s only a cat under the bed.” Good-natured Sean is not fooled, for “[h]is mother had always said that a leprechaun in the house was a fine piece of luck,” and he begins leaving food for Brian. The use of dialect lends flavor to the tale while the gentle cadence makes clear that the prank, while a test, is not malicious. Acrylic and watercolor illustrations in primary colors have the innocent feeling of children’s drawings and depict the growing alliance between the two. When hard times hit, Brian gives Sean first one, then another gold coin to buy food. Tongues wag about Sean’s rumored wealth, and, in an up-tick to the pace, robbers threaten Sean in his home. When they hear a noise, Sean tells them, “It’s only the cat under the bed.” With a bit of leprechaun magic, Brian has become a wildcat—and the image practically leaps off the page!

At the satisfying conclusion of this original tale, the robbers run away leaving Sean and Brian, now friends for life, in peace. ’Tis a grand thing. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2221-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture...

HAPPY DREAMER

Displaying his distinctive voice and images, Reynolds celebrates the joys and challenges of being a creative spirit.

“I am a HAPPY DREAMER,” cheers a thin, spiky-haired white boy as he flies skyward, streaming yellow swirls of sparkles. This little “dreamer maximus” piles on the energy with colors and noise and the joy-filled exuberance he has for life. “Wish you could HEAR inside my head / TRUMPETY, ZIGZAG JAZZ!” With clear honesty, he shares that the world tells him to be quiet, to focus and pay attention. Like a roller-coaster ride, Reynolds’ text and illustrations capture the energetic side of creativity and the gloom of cleaning up the messes that come with it while providing a wide vocabulary to describe emotional brilliance and resilience. The protagonist makes no apologies for expressing his feelings and embracing his distinct view of the world. This makes him happy. The book finishes with a question to readers: “What kind of dreamer are you?” Hinging outward, the double-page spread opens to four panels, each with a dozen examples of multiracial children being happy and being dreamers, showing inspiring possibilities for exploration. The best way, of course, is to “just BE YOU.”

A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-86501-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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