KNOCKS IN THE NIGHT

A sudden snowstorm leaves forest animals out in the cold.

Peter’s small house sits “all draped in white.” He’s snug in bed in his white nightshirt when he hears a knock at the door. “Please let me in,” a voice cries. “I’m f-f-freezing!” Peter, a large white man with red hair and mustache, finds a hare out in the snow and invites him in. After getting dressed, Peter fills the stove with wood and gets a nice fire going. Both are nodding off when there’s another knock at the door. It’s the fox, frozen from top to toe. The hare pleads with Peter to ignore the fox. “Foxes have a nasty habit / Of eating things that look like rabbit.” Fox promises to be good, and Peter lets him in. One more creature disturbs their slumber, a big brown bear. Peter plays peacemaker, and all settle down to sleep as the storm rages outside. Next morning, all is clear, and the animals venture back into the forest, one by one, before Peter awakens. Tracks in the snow tell him this wasn’t a dream. Michels’ verse feels easy; Michl depicts animals with care, and Peter looks like a Maurice Sendak child all grown up. The story is a bit thin, but the book captures a wintry mood and is handsomely designed; each double-page spread has a beautiful, white-bordered illustration on one side and ample white space for a small vignette and a stanza or two on the other.

Quiet and nifty. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-76036-011-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Starfish Bay

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Kids may choose differently at the pumpkin patch after reading this tale, though any deeper message may be lost on them.

STUMPKIN

A stemless pumpkin who isn’t chosen gets the best Halloween of all.

On the shelves outside a shop in a busy city, a shopkeeper makes a display of orange pumpkins and a single yellow gourd. They are all sizes and shapes and have lovely stems, save for one. Poor Stumpkin worries that, despite his good qualities, his stemlessness will prevent him from becoming a jack-o’-lantern like all the other pumpkins that go home with customers to decorate the windows across the street. On Halloween night, he alone is left (even the gourd went home with someone!). So the shopkeeper scoops him up. The spreads that follow are marvelous, wordless creations that will delight young readers: A black spread is followed by one with an orange-rimmed white triangle on the verso, then one with similar triangles on both pages. “Stumpkin wouldn’t be getting a window. And he wouldn’t be getting a new home. // He already had a home.” The final page shows Stumpkin as a jack-o’-lantern back on the shelves with the shopkeeper’s friendly black cat. Though undoubtedly feel-good, the book may leave readers wondering exactly what it’s saying about Stumpkin’s physical irregularity—is it some kind of disability metaphor? The city sights, people, and animals other than the cat are all black silhouettes, keeping the focus on Stumpkin.

Kids may choose differently at the pumpkin patch after reading this tale, though any deeper message may be lost on them. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1362-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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