Vague, slapdash reassurances to readers growing up in a worrisome world.

READ REVIEW

THE DON'T WORRY BOOK

Simple comforts for young fretters and overthinkers.

Recycling themes and even some images from The I'm Not Scared Book (2011), Parr first enumerates a selective list of things that can cause anxiety (fears of the dark or of having to go to the doctor, having too much to do, being bullied) and times that worrying can happen. The latter include lying awake in bed, watching TV, "looking at screens too much" (a frazzled-looking person holds a tablet), and overhearing "bad news"—exemplified with an image of a flying saucer, travelers from abroad (of one sort or another) being much on people's minds these days. He then goes on to general coping strategies ranging from taking deep breaths to visiting friends, dancing, squeezing a toy, or just thinking about "everyone who loves and takes care of you!" "Worrying doesn't help you," he concludes, but talking about concerns will. Readers searching for books that address deeper-seated anxiety might be better served by Me and My Fear, by Francesca Sanna (2018). In Parr's thick-lined, minimally detailed illustrations, the artist employs his characteristic technique of adding blue, purple, and bright yellow to the palette of skin tones; he also occasionally switches out human figures for dogs or cats behaving as people would. It's a strategy, though it leaves the cast with a generic look overall.

Vague, slapdash reassurances to readers growing up in a worrisome world. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-50668-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Although listeners will relate to the difficulty of waiting as presented in Schwartz’s straightforward plot, there is not...

I CAN'T WAIT!

Periodically, a publishing season yields titles on a common theme. This year, coincidentally, three artists explore dimensions of waiting.

Schwartz depicts three impatient preschoolers who are helpfully distracted by other characters. Headings create five segments within the longish text. William enjoys riddles; he drops clues to neighbors, whose silly guesses pass the time until Papa arrives. Anxious Annie rattles off reasons (to Puppy) why Eddie probably doesn’t like her anymore. Then he appears, wondering where she’d been. Thomas helps Grandma choose names for a new sister—until a brother is presented. Cheerful gouache and ink vignettes in a plethora of colorful patterns against a white background carry the flavor of a bygone era: wash hangs outside, batter is licked while baking, a child waits on a porch stoop. After group play, William “can’t wait” until tomorrow. By contrast, Kevin Henkes’ Waiting (2015) celebrates the joy in the moments themselves—the serendipity and sense of community with others who are present. In Antoinette Portis’ Wait (2015), a child repeatedly urges his mother to stop (and look)—with manifold rewards. Both titles feature spare text and rich visual narratives motivating readers to draw their own conclusions—and return.

Although listeners will relate to the difficulty of waiting as presented in Schwartz’s straightforward plot, there is not more to glean. Henkes and Portis offer deeper pleasures in more succinct packages. (Picture book. 4-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-8231-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Conceptually elegant, visually clean, uncluttered—and sure to inspire young artists everywhere.

SHAPES

From the Zoe and Zack series

A charming lesson for young Michaelangelos and O’Keeffes on drawing geometric shapes—and from them, simple representational images.

Artist-turned-educator-turned–children’s book creator Duquennoy has created an entertaining and inventive vehicle to teach youngsters both basic shapes and some simple drawings that can be made with them. As with the simultaneously published companion volume, Opposites, this book makes clever use of die-cut pages, here combined with clear acetate windows to show children how simple lines become familiar shapes, then toys and animals. Zack the chameleon draws a curved semicircle on one page; on the facing page, Zoe the zebra can be seen drawing a complementary semicircle on the clear window between them. When the page is turned, the two curved lines combine to form a circle. Zack draws more circles, and Zoe does the same, in seemingly random patterns, until a turn of the page creates a composite image of a teddy bear. Squares can be used, the two friends suggest, to draw a robot. Triangles are used to draw fish. All three shapes can be combined to construct a rudimentary but clearly recognizable “beautiful bird…ready to fly high in the sky.” It’s an admirably simple device to encourage crayon aficionados with still-developing motor skills to make the jump from scribbles to basic representational drawing.

Conceptually elegant, visually clean, uncluttered—and sure to inspire young artists everywhere. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-2-74708-699-8

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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