The ever-unique Egan (The Blunder of the Rogues, 1999, etc.) is back, and in peachy form, with this comical—believe it—tale of disappointment, mob rule, and rumor mongering. Preston the bear may be the checkers king of Ellington Lodge, but he is also negligent about his chores. So his wife accepts the offer of an itinerant dog, Marley, to paint the place in exchange for bed and board ("I learned to paint in France," notes the debonair Marley). Miraculously, the whole joint is painted by morning. Perhaps it was the unicycle Marley used that made all the difference, as seen in Egan's entertaining, tongue-in-cheek artwork, with its lovely bottle greens, barn reds, and inky purples. The next day, Marley whips up Eggs Florentine for breakfast ("I used to be a chef in Italy") before delivering a lecture in languages and a host of exotic stories. Then Marley steps on the banana peel: He beats Preston at checkers, snapping a 992-game streak. Vengeful, Preston starts dropping hints that Marley is a sorcerer. How else could he do all the things he does? The townsfolk start getting antsy: Doesn't legend say that sorcerers turn their enemies into ice? Soon the mob wants to run Marley out of town. Preston starts to feel the glimmerings of remorse, but it's too late. The crowd shows up at Marley's cabin and, lo, it is Marley who has been turned into ice. (" 'Wow,' said Jacob, 'I guess I heard that legend wrong!' ”) It's all a ruse, however, to show the townsfolk the evil of their ways ("I learned ice sculpting in Finland," admits Marley). Egan's arch humor and way with allegory couldn't be more finely tuned, even by a sorcerer dog. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-00393-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.


The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Lit with sweetness.


Coco, who loves her gentle friend Bear, is shocked to learn that the other forest animals do not know about his kindness.

Inspired by one of her grandmother’s favorite maxims, Coco, a girl with light brown skin and curly brown hair, works with Bear to “share some kindness [and] bring some light” to the other animals in the forest. Interpreting it literally, the two make cookies (kindness) and lanterns (light) to share with the other animals. They trek through the snow-covered forest to deliver their gifts, but no one trusts Bear enough to accept them. As night begins to fall, Bear and Coco head home with the lanterns and cookies. On the way through the quiet forest, they hear a small voice pleading for help; it’s Baby Deer, stuck in the snow. They help free him, and Bear gives the young one a ride home on his back. When the other animals see both that Baby Deer is safe and that Bear is responsible for this, they begin to recognize all the wonderful things about Bear that they had not noticed before. The episode is weak on backstory—how did Coco and Bear become friends? Why don’t the animals know Bear better by now?—but Stott’s delicately inked and colored illustrations offer beguiling views of lightly anthropomorphized woodland critters that make it easy to move past these stumbling blocks. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 67% of actual size.)

Lit with sweetness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6238-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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