An uplifting ode to the power of taking small steps to make big changes.


Manbeck offers direction for life’s journeys in his children’s book debut.

Using just one or two pithy sentences per page, the text encourages readers to bravely forge their own paths in the world. Whatever one hopes to accomplish or whatever one’s destination in life, the starting point is “here,” a point of view that suggests that there is power and wisdom in embracing the present moment. Manbeck assures readers that “you can go anywhere!” and includes all-caps imperatives on almost every double-page spread: “Begin”; “Take your time”; “Keep going”; “Be patient”; etc. A major thrust of the narrative is the futility of comparing oneself to others since every person is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all formula for how life should unfold. The whimsical illustrations, rendered in gouache and mixed media with digital editing, show sprightly children and their childlike anthropomorphic animal companions romping on giant fantastical play structures that recall Rube Goldberg machines. Some spreads feature a montage of the characters adventurously exploring a range of fun activities: butterfly watching, rollerblading, riding a penny-farthing, etc. Flowers and butterflies—with their associated meanings of transformation, hope, courage, success, and new beginnings—are used liberally as motifs throughout the colorful artwork. The characters have various skin tones, and one of them uses a wheelchair. Many wear party hats, conveying a mood of celebration; indeed, this book would make a good baby-shower or graduation gift.

An uplifting ode to the power of taking small steps to make big changes. (Gift book. 0-5, adult)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-79721-010-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

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After being home-schooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle school life when he looks so different from everyone else?

Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though “his features look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle” and he’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he’s an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He’s smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.” Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too.

A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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A fresh take on an enduring theme.


When Irie tells her momma she hates her big poofy hair, her momma explains that everything about Irie was perfectly custom made.

Irie wants her hair to swing and bounce like the “pretty hair” that “everyone else” has. But Momma tells her that she didn’t make Irie to be like everyone else. “I made you to be you.” Momma explains that when she was expecting Irie, she talked to God and made special requests. Out of all the skin tones in the world, Momma chose her favorite for Irie. The same for her hair type, her sparkling eyes, her kissable nose, and her bright smile. Momma also chose a good heart for Irie, and when she was born, she was perfect, and as she grew, she was kind. When Momma tells her “you are all of my favorite things,” Irie runs to the mirror and sees herself with new eyes: a “most perfect me.” This sweet, imaginative tale highlights the importance of parental love in boosting children’s self-esteem and will be a touching read-aloud for families who have struggled with issues of fitting in. The story is a challenging one to illustrate; the full-color digital art is warm with soft shades of natural-looking color but struggles to create engaging scenes to accompany Momma’s explanation of her conversation with God. The multiple spreads showing Irie and Momma flying through the atmosphere among clouds, stars, and hearts become a bit monotonous and lack depth of expression. Characters are Black. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fresh take on an enduring theme. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42694-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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