Sure to ease the worries of human campers before their own forays.

SUMMER CAMP CRITTER JITTERS

Various animals reveal their worries to readers as they pack for summer camp.

Skunk doesn’t like scary stories, and feeling afraid sometimes leads to stinky incidents. Duck never learned to swim. Mole is worried about sports due to poor eyesight (archery, anyone?). And Mouse fears sleeping on the top bunk. Sloth, Rabbit, Snake, Bear, Kangaroo, and Parrot share worries of their own as they each pack their belongings in a suitcase (readers will chuckle at the small, carefully chosen details in these scenes). Once they all arrive at camp, though, they discover a larger problem than their own specific fears: Their new counselor, Cat, is stuck up a tree. By cooperating and each doing jobs that are well suited to them, they can get Cat out of the tree and thereby become a team that can work on their individual fears. For example, under an alligator counselor’s close eye, Duck works on floating, Snake acting as a ring buoy around Duck’s waist. Climo’s cartoon illustrations use format conventions to marvelous effect, imaginary scenes encased in cloudlike bubbles to separate them from reality. The characters are simply drawn with minimal details, but this serves to highlight their expressive faces. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 23.1% of actual size.)

Sure to ease the worries of human campers before their own forays. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11098-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture...

HAPPY DREAMER

Displaying his distinctive voice and images, Reynolds celebrates the joys and challenges of being a creative spirit.

“I am a HAPPY DREAMER,” cheers a thin, spiky-haired white boy as he flies skyward, streaming yellow swirls of sparkles. This little “dreamer maximus” piles on the energy with colors and noise and the joy-filled exuberance he has for life. “Wish you could HEAR inside my head / TRUMPETY, ZIGZAG JAZZ!” With clear honesty, he shares that the world tells him to be quiet, to focus and pay attention. Like a roller-coaster ride, Reynolds’ text and illustrations capture the energetic side of creativity and the gloom of cleaning up the messes that come with it while providing a wide vocabulary to describe emotional brilliance and resilience. The protagonist makes no apologies for expressing his feelings and embracing his distinct view of the world. This makes him happy. The book finishes with a question to readers: “What kind of dreamer are you?” Hinging outward, the double-page spread opens to four panels, each with a dozen examples of multiracial children being happy and being dreamers, showing inspiring possibilities for exploration. The best way, of course, is to “just BE YOU.”

A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-86501-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best.

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THE SMART COOKIE

From the Food Group series

This smart cookie wasn’t alwaysa smart cookie.

At the corner of Sweet Street stands a bakery, which a whole range of buns and cakes and treats calls home, including a small cookie who “didn’t feel comfortable speaking up or sharing” any ideas once upon a time. During the early days of gingerbread school, this cookie (with sprinkles on its top half, above its wide eyes and tiny, smiling mouth) never got the best grades, didn’t raise a hand to answer questions, and almost always finished most tests last, despite all best efforts. As a result, the cookie would worry away the nights inside of a cookie jar. Then one day, kind Ms. Biscotti assigns some homework that asks everyone “to create something completely original.” What to do? The cookie’s first attempts (baking, building a birdhouse, sculpting) fail, but an idea strikes soon enough. “A poem!” Titling its opus “My Crumby Days,” the budding cookie poet writes and writes until done. “AHA!” When the time arrives to share the poem with the class, this cookie learns that there’s more than one way to be smart. John and Oswald’s latest installment in the hilarious Food Group series continues to provide plenty of belly laughs (thanks to puns galore!) and mini buns of wisdom in a wholly effervescent package. Oswald’s artwork retains its playful, colorful creative streak. Although slightly less effective than its predecessors due to its rather broad message, this one’s nonetheless an excellent addition to the menu.(This book was reviewed digitally.)

A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304540-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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