A well-intentioned story about body positivity and inner beauty that could benefit from the prescription to show, not tell.

REGGIE RED

Reggie Red, a young White girl, is so named because of her freckles and ruddy hair “with curls so big.”

Photo day is coming up in school, and Reggie wants to look like the girls she has seen in pictures online. She attempts to straighten her hair and make it lie flat. When that fails, she resorts to coloring her hair brown using chocolate sauce but merely makes a huge, sticky mess. She tries covering her freckles with her grandmother’s makeup and even tries on Grandma’s silver wig. Unsatisfied and dejected, she turns to her mother, who teaches her that many online photos are fake and dispenses wisdom: “Beauty is like / the roots of a tree. / The parts that matter / are the ones you can't see.” Comforted, Reggie goes to school on photo day feeling “radiant” and “light as a feather.” When she discovers that Tilly, the tallest girl in class, is self-conscious about her height, Reggie knows just what to say to her. Layton’s narrative offers a much-needed reminder that confidence looks different on everyone; however, the text is pedestrian, the rhymes are sometimes forced, and the constructions occasionally awkward. Timmis’ cartoony digital illustrations are serviceable but not much more. Body acceptance is framed as a purely female issue, which feels out of touch. The main cast is White. Contrary to the book’s message about body diversity, background characters are all slim and mostly White.

A well-intentioned story about body positivity and inner beauty that could benefit from the prescription to show, not tell. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4994-8961-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Windmill Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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