A sweetly, quietly appealing piece of whimsy.

DARLING ZHUZHA

This original fairy tale looks as timeworn as a fairy tale should, with a story just runic enough to keep the wheels turning in little minds.

“It was a greyish-blue day. Rainy and windy, it tasted like a dandelion blowball, felt like a wax cloth, smelt like a bonfire and was as long and slimy, as an earthworm.” Just the kind of day you might expect to find a hole in the pocket of your coat. A Man in a village finds himself in such a predicament. And worse: “[The] hole in his jacket turned out to be the size of his childhood. The Man has lost it a long, very long time ago.” Now, repairing the hole might cut the Man off completely from his childhood, so the fairy Zhuzha tells him to hold on, she’ll go look. She runs into a princess, who is literally fishing for compliments, and some squawking birds. Zhuzha has a brainstorm, even if it does mean she will be spending much time in the dark: She is “of the same size as the hole in [the] pocket.” The brief story (just six pages) is laid out on sepia-toned backgrounds with fine-lined, gently animated cartoon drawings to accompany the text. The village looks like a 19th-century shtetl preserved in amber, though it has (really charming) moving parts.

A sweetly, quietly appealing piece of whimsy. (iPad storybook app. 4-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Timecode

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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