Readers struggling with low self-esteem might find coping strategies here, but caregivers will want to add another: asking...

THE COLD LITTLE VOICE

A young child struggles to banish pervasive negative thoughts.

“I have a cold little voice that follows me everywhere,” the beleaguered narrator declares as a snarling, blue, tadpole-shaped thing with arms taps their shoulder. Sometimes it “digs in its claws and whispers its cold little thoughts,” berating their every inch—from their “ridiculous” haircut to their “funny” gait—until it’s all they hear. After the child, who ordinarily has purple skin, is “crushed” into “a small, grey nothing” and wonders, “Will it ever, ever stop?” a sunny voice they “never even knew [they] had inside [them]” says, “I’ll make it stop.” To that end, they sit in the sunlight, snuggle a cat, and seek out rainbow-skinned people who “like [them] the way [they are]. People who help.” (Unfortunately, the nature of this help is unspecified.) They resolve to “pity” and “hug” their cold voice so that it will “grow into a big, warm, kind voice” and possibly befriend “other people’s cold little voices,” spreading happiness until cold voices disappear. Though hopeful, this approach—culminating in seething voices filing through a “kindness factory” to emerge all smiles—feels unsettlingly facile against such relentless, unexplained self-criticism. The “little” voice looms frighteningly large; neither the text’s Comic Sans–esque typeface nor Dolby’s pastel-hued, cartoonish illustrations soften its nasty, eager grin or the exhaustion shadowing the child’s eyes.

Readers struggling with low self-esteem might find coping strategies here, but caregivers will want to add another: asking an adult for help. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-988347-11-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clockwise Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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