Entertaining and instructive for the playground set.

BALL & BALLOON

Sitting still on the ground, alone, Ball wishes he could soar like Balloon. Suddenly he’s thrown, bounced, rolled, passed, and kicked in a fantastic playground pickup game, and he sees what’s fantastic about being himself.

Children encounter other crucial lifelong lessons in this engaging picture book about two simple objects that give young people unending pleasure. Apostrophic lines give Ball and Balloon expressions children can easily interpret: embarrassment, smugness, surprise, pride, exhilaration, discouragement, love, satisfaction, and reciprocity. When Ball tries to roll and bounce on his own but can’t, Balloon taunts from above, calling, “The sky’s the limit.…Ta-ta, Ball!” Both Ball’s impotent dejection and Balloon’s glib gloating (so vividly depicted in distilled language and nuanced facial expressions against a white backdrop) arrive as arrows to readers’ hearts, which will recognize both feelings as their own. Digitally compiled mixed-media illustrations offer varied perspectives, from way above the basketball hoop to down at the asphalt, as well as lots of movement, with Ball whizzing and Balloon floating. The cleanliness and clarity of these illustrations facilitate a focus on feelings. Children glean fundamental lessons in empathy, navigating exhilaration and sadness, and the importance of helping others while riding out Ball’s and Balloon’s emotional (and literal) highs and lows.

Entertaining and instructive for the playground set. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2562-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool.

PETE THE KITTY'S FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL

From the Pete the Cat series

The popular character enjoys storytime, painting, and a snack on the very first day of preschool.

The younger incarnation of Pete the Cat packs his backpack that he picked out from the store himself, gets a snack from his mom, and rides the school bus with his big brother, Bob (who isn’t much bigger than Pete, sizewise). At school, Pete meets his stylish teacher, Mrs. Lopez, and fellow feline classmates while keeping his signature cool. The day ends with Pete declaring: “Preschool is awesome! Pete loves everything!” James Dean’s big-eyed cats populate the simply drawn scenes that look as though they were painted in preschool-esque fashion with thick swaths of tempera. At a couple of moments (when he eats his banana and declares it tasty and when he sings along) his customarily expressionless face actually breaks into a smile. Kimberly Dean’s text is uninspired, but it’s in sync with the upbeat tone of the series. Pete’s preschool experience, while not particularly realistic, is a highly positive one; refreshingly, there is no trace of the separation anxiety or anxiousness found in many first-day-of-school books.

Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06243582-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A winning tale about finding new friends.

FOUND

Bear finds a wonderful toy.

Bear clearly loves the toy bunny that he has found sitting up against a tree in the forest, but he wants to help it return to its home. With a wagon full of fliers and the bunny secure in Bear’s backpack, he festoons the trees with posters and checks out a bulletin board filled with lost and found objects (some of which will bring a chuckle to adult readers). Alas, he returns home still worried about bunny. The following day, they happily play together and ride Bear’s tricycle. Into the cozy little picture steps Moose, who immediately recognizes his bunny, named Floppy. Bear has a tear in his eye as he watches Moose and Floppy hug. But Moose, wearing a tie, is clearly grown and knows that it is time to share and that Bear will take very good care of his Floppy. Yoon’s story is sweet without being sentimental. She uses digitized artwork in saturated colors to create a lovely little world for her animals. They are outlined in strong black lines and stand out against the yellows, blues, greens and oranges of the background. She also uses space to great effect, allowing readers to feel the emotional tug of the story.

A winning tale about finding new friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3559-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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