A heartwarming portrayal of a family embracing disability.

DANCING WITH DADDY

A nonverbal girl who uses a wheelchair anticipates a father-daughter dance in Schulte’s debut.

As Elsie and her mother shop for the perfect dress, Elsie ponders: Pink or red? Red matches Daddy’s soccer jersey—a red dress it is! Her supportive sisters are thrilled for her, too. But it’s snowing harder and harder. What if the dance is canceled? Refreshingly, Elsie’s disability is seamlessly presented as simply another aspect of family life; for instance, as Elsie’s sisters slurp up noodles with chopsticks, Daddy matter-of-factly gives Elsie a “push” of liquid food through a feeding tube. Pops of rhyme or alliteration add pep to the straightforward text: “Inside, daughters dashed. Ponytails bounced. Dresses flounced.” Inspired by the author’s daughter, who has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, Elsie is delightfully expressive. Elsie’s italicized thoughts convey her worry and excitement; she “can’t wait to see [her] dress spin.” Her face, bearing characteristic features of the disorder, radiates emotion. She frowns forlornly at fat snowflakes and beams with infectious joy as her sisters help her “[find] her groove.” Whether she’s pointing to pictures in her communication book or anxiously indicating her missing hair bow, her family is warmly attentive. As she swings and sways in her father’s arms, her forehead against his, their love is palpable; Chen’s illustrations fairly glow with affection. Elsie and her family are cued as East Asian.

A heartwarming portrayal of a family embracing disability. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0719-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight.

GRANDUDE'S GREEN SUBMARINE

Following Hey, Grandude (2019), more jolly fun as the title character squires his four young “Chillers” aboard a green sub (where does Sir Paul get his ideas?) to catch up with his partner in adventure: Nandude!

Casting about for something to do on a sweltering day, the multiracial quartet eagerly follows their grizzled White gramps down to an underground chamber where a viridian vessel awaits to take them soaring through the sky to a distant land. There, Grandude’s old friend Ravi plays a tune of Nandude’s that accompanies them after they leave him. It leads them under the sea to an octopus’s garden and a briefly scary tangle with the ink-spraying giant. The monster’s set to dancing, though, as Nandude floats up in her own accordion-shaped ship to carry everyone home for tea, biscuits, and bed in a swirl of notes. Aside maybe from the odd spray of shiny stars here and there, Durst steers clear of sight gags and direct visual references to the film or music in her cheery cartoon scenes. Both she and the text do kit Ravi out, appropriately, with a sitar, but there’s no 1960s-style psychedelia to be seen. Nostalgic adults may be disappointed to see that even the submarine bears no resemblance to the iconic vessel of the film but instead just looks like a plush, smiling toy whale, eyes and all. Children, of course, won’t care. That this book does not try to trade (heavily) on its antecedents makes it a refreshing change from so many other celebrity titles. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-37243-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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