A charming picture book, full of visual appeal, which may become a family favorite.

The Bicycle Garden

Lively, colorful illustrations enhance this family bedtime story about bicycles and magic.

What kid doesn’t want a shiny new bike? Siblings Timka and Dasha are lucky enough to be able to grow one in their backyard with the help of some magic seeds. It works great at first, but then the bicycle continues to grow until it reaches the sky. The brother and sister, distraught that the bike has become unusable, plant more seeds and grow more bikes, all of which grow and grow until the backyard is a jungle of gigantic tires and metal. The author’s colored-pencil illustrations are the book’s standout feature, with vibrant primary hues and simplified, exuberant figures that seem influenced by Henri Matisse’s work. Each illustration clearly supports its corresponding page of text—no more than one sentence per page—and takes liberties with space, perspective and form in a way that children may find delightfully silly and adults, appealingly modernist. As such, they recall the work of author/illustrators such as Patrick McDonnell and Dahlov Ipcar. One page, in which the children go riding through a jumbled, joyful city, is particularly well-done, as are illustrations that show their tiny house, seen through vast frameworks of brightly colored metal. Bicycles and gardens are almost universal objects of fascination for young children, who will likely see themselves in the inventively named young protagonists. Parents may be tempted to read a larger message into the story—is it a cautionary tale about economic growth and development?—but younger readers will simply enjoy its fantastical theme and its happy, satisfying ending.

A charming picture book, full of visual appeal, which may become a family favorite.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0989069809

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Fernwood & Hedges Books

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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