Singularly addressed to “Girl,” but an open-arms reminder to all children.

DEAR GIRL,

Short, epistolary advice from a loving parent or caregiver.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal was no stranger to odes to families (That’s Me Loving You, 2016, and I Wish You More, 2015). This picture book is a collaboration with her daughter—a series of tiny reminders to a growing girl. Blurring the line between a familiar letter salutation and an endearing term of love, each piece begins with “Dear Girl.” Some are silly: “Dear Girl, / … // Sometimes you’ll need a tissue. / Sometimes you’ll need a bucket.” In illustration, a distraught gal cries overflowing tears. Some are clichéd: “Dear Girl, Coloring OUTSIDE the lines is cool too.” (“OUTSIDE” sprawls across the spread in giant block capitals; each letter is colored in, crayon marks exceeding every boundary.) Some are contemplative: “Dear Girl, Write down your thoughts once in a while, even if it is just to enjoy the way your pen feels against the paper.” Combined, they all have Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s (apparently genetically shared) knack for touching a wisp of wonder. Hatam’s round-faced, white protagonist has ink-dotted eyes and moves through the myriad scenarios, hugging and befriending a few darker-skinned pals along the way. The pages may be tinged with sadness now that Amy Krouse Rosenthal has passed, but the message of tender protection is strong and clear.

Singularly addressed to “Girl,” but an open-arms reminder to all children. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-242250-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best.

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THE SMART COOKIE

From the Food Group series

This smart cookie wasn’t alwaysa smart cookie.

At the corner of Sweet Street stands a bakery, which a whole range of buns and cakes and treats calls home, including a small cookie who “didn’t feel comfortable speaking up or sharing” any ideas once upon a time. During the early days of gingerbread school, this cookie (with sprinkles on its top half, above its wide eyes and tiny, smiling mouth) never got the best grades, didn’t raise a hand to answer questions, and almost always finished most tests last, despite all best efforts. As a result, the cookie would worry away the nights inside of a cookie jar. Then one day, kind Ms. Biscotti assigns some homework that asks everyone “to create something completely original.” What to do? The cookie’s first attempts (baking, building a birdhouse, sculpting) fail, but an idea strikes soon enough. “A poem!” Titling its opus “My Crumby Days,” the budding cookie poet writes and writes until done. “AHA!” When the time arrives to share the poem with the class, this cookie learns that there’s more than one way to be smart. John and Oswald’s latest installment in the hilarious Food Group series continues to provide plenty of belly laughs (thanks to puns galore!) and mini buns of wisdom in a wholly effervescent package. Oswald’s artwork retains its playful, colorful creative streak. Although slightly less effective than its predecessors due to its rather broad message, this one’s nonetheless an excellent addition to the menu.(This book was reviewed digitally.)

A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304540-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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