Fun—and with a supportive message for readers who march to different drums.



An otter and a butterfly—both passionate sea captains—become fast friends as they battle it out on the high seas.

Kelpy, an otter in the flesh but a sea captain in his heart, builds himself a boat and sets sail despite the pervasive mockery. Other otters laugh, human pirates laugh, sharks laugh, and even the waves laugh, but Kelpy sails onward, pursuing his dream (though shedding a few tears). Then, on the horizon he spies another pirate. But this time it is a diminutive butterfly (with a hilarious loop-over-the-nonexistent-ears beard) in a tiny boat who exclaims: “I be Blistering Blastering Butterbeard. Prepare to be sunk!” Kelpy laughs at the butterfly’s ineffectual barrage, and Butterbeard begins to cry. Contrite and recognizing that Butterbeard is a kindred spirit following his own dream, Kelpy realizes the only thing to be done is to destroy his own boat to make it look as though Butterbeard sank him. Butterbeard exults, Kelpy rebuilds. The two fierce denizens of the high seas commence to battle each other over and over, having a grand time and becoming fast friends in the process. Author Wilson’s tightly constructed narrative has a strong repetition-of-three base that supplies both a solid foundation and humor, and it plays well against illustrator Chiodi’s exuberant and colorful mixed-media illustrations with their loose, plenty-of-space feel.

Fun—and with a supportive message for readers who march to different drums. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77147-311-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.


A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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