While not many kids are likely to ask for repeated readings, still this new series is a useful tool for teaching valuable...



From the Zach Rules series

Counselor and psychotherapist Mulcahy makes his children’s-book debut with the Zach Rules series, designed to give kids some coping tools for working through everyday problems.

In this series kickoff, Zach’s mother teaches him the four-square apology. Zach writes and draws the answers to four questions (What did I do to hurt someone? How did the person feel? What could I do next time? How will I make it up to them?), then uses them to make an apology to his sibling for pushing him down. In the simultaneously publishing Zach Gets Frustrated, a day at the beach is not much fun for Zach because his kite won’t fly. By teaching him the three parts of the frustration triangle, his dad is able to get Zach to name the cause of his frustration, calm down and reframe the situation. Extensive backmatter in each book helps parents understand why teaching children these strategies is so important, as well as how to teach them successfully. As in many expressly didactic books, interactions between the characters are stiff and stilted, although Zach’s feelings are widely recognizable and will be familiar to readers. McKee’s brightly colored digital illustrations have a Cartoon Network feel to them, but they nonetheless do a good job of supporting the text and helping to teach the material.

While not many kids are likely to ask for repeated readings, still this new series is a useful tool for teaching valuable skills. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-57542-389-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Free Spirit

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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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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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.


A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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