Well-intentioned but ultimately lacking in kid appeal.



They’re shredded, stained, and stinky. A New York City kid’s favorite sneakers, or “kicks,” have lived an action-packed life.

Skateboarding, tree-climbing, and puddle-splashing have taken their toll. The young black boy is devastated when Mom declares the need for new shoes. He regales his mother with stories about each and every scuff, tear, and splatter as she drags him downtown. In the store the boy rejects all choices, but Mom is adamant. Disgruntled, the child points at random and is pleasantly surprised with the results. The shiny yellow kicks make him jump higher, run faster, and feel just right. The old red canvas shoes are finally retired to a place of honor. Verde’s overlong story stretches credulity in asking readers to believe that a young boy’s shoes will last from summer to summer without getting outgrown. It’s difficult to engage with the nameless boy, whose uneven first-person narration ranges from childlike exclamations (“It was awesome! I RULED that day!”) to adult nostalgia (“These sneakers have soul in their soles. Joy in each hole”). Kath’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations are dynamic, but the facial features are fairly generic. The “Shoe-Tying Guide” touted on the dust jacket is printed on the cover instead of on the endpapers, a design flaw that renders the guide virtually inaccessible to library users because most institutions affix the jacket to the book.

Well-intentioned but ultimately lacking in kid appeal. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2309-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.


In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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A subtle tale, perhaps best read to a thoughtful child in the intimate setting of a winter bedtime.


Quiet but joyful, this is an original story based on a traditional theme found in many cultures.

The author’s note mentions that in some Native American cultures, as well as in China, Korea and Japan, the trope of the rabbit in the moon is well-known. Brooks learned about it from a Lakota elder and then spun her own tale. A young rabbit in a northern clime learns the “Winter Moon Song.” On his way home from rehearsal for the annual performance, he stops in the woods and looks up at the image of the “rabbit-in-the-moon” and remembers the story, told by his mother, of love and sacrifice binding together the Great Mother, Creator Rabbit (imagined by Brooks), and one of her earthly creations, a little rabbit. The song continues to honor this story and is meant to “lighten the darkest month of the year with a trail of magic.” Yet the new singer is not satisfied with the performance. Instead of the churchlike place with candlelight where the rabbits gather, he starts to sing right under the moon, “with the rabbit pattern clearly visible,” beginning a new tradition. The soft watercolors, in subdued gray and deep blue, with some contrasting warm brown and golden shades, set a tranquil tone.

A subtle tale, perhaps best read to a thoughtful child in the intimate setting of a winter bedtime. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55498-320-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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