ANTS IN MY PANTS

Talk about imaginary friends—this entire bestiary is conjured to rescue Jacob from a morning of shopping with his mother. Jacob is toasty in his pajamas and happy playing with his trains when his mother warbles: “We have to go shopping and it’s time to get dressed.” Jacob is miffed. “I want to stay here today,” he retorts, but no dice. So Jacob starts a delaying tactic: with each article of clothing his mother has him put on, he finds a creature crawling or dressed in it. There are ants in his pants, for goodness sakes, and fox in his socks and geese in his fleece, a goat in his coat and newts in his boots. With mildly growing irritation, his mother says she can’t see the animals, but really, says Jacob, there are kittens in his mittens and a bat in his hat . . . Until, voilà, they open the door and there really is snow on the ground. “ ‘This is fun,’ shouted Jacob. ‘Let’s just stay home and play.’ ” His mother assents and returns inside for her hat; guess who is sitting inside that? Jacob’s creative stalling will find plenty of eager students in young readers, and that cat enshrined like a Buddha in the mother’s hat a perfect subversion of reality versus fantasy. Mould’s lovely line-and-wash drawing keep this contest of wills from ever having too sharp an edge. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-09640-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2001

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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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TEN LITTLE FINGERS AND TEN LITTLE TOES

A pleasing poem that celebrates babies around the world. Whether from a remote village or an urban dwelling, a tent or the snow, Fox notes that each “of these babies, / as everyone knows, / had ten little fingers / and ten little toes.” Repeated in each stanza, the verse establishes an easy rhythm. Oxenbury’s charming illustrations depict infants from a variety of ethnicities wearing clothing that invokes a sense of place. Her pencil drawings, with clean watercolor washes laid in, are sweetly similar to those in her early board books (Clap Hands, 1987, etc.). Each stanza introduces a new pair of babies, and the illustrations cleverly incorporate the children from the previous stanzas onto one page, allowing readers to count not only fingers and toes but also babies. The last stanza switches its focus from two children to one “sweet little child,” and reveals the narrator as that baby’s mother. Little readers will take to the repetition and counting, while parents will be moved by the last spread: a sweet depiction of mother and baby. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-15-206057-2

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2008

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