A playful and poignant take on parenthood.

MY LITTLE ONE

The parent becomes the child in this sparsely worded French import.

The illustrations, done by 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Illustrator Award winner Albertine, rest in copious white space. They are spare, delicate line drawings in what appear to be pencil (no other color is applied) of a short-haired, dress-clad adult, as white as the page. All drawings appear on the recto; if one were to flip the book’s pages, the drawings would appear animated. The adult exclaims, “Here you are… // Finally!” and then cradles a miniscule but fully mature-looking adult, who appears to have emerged from the heart of the speaker. “I’ve been waiting for you,” reads the text. As the adult speaks fondly to the child (“my little one!”), telling them “our story,” embracing them, and even swinging them around in the air, the child grows tall. Gradually, the child is as tall as the parent once was while the parent shrinks in size. The child now cradles the parent until, bringing the story full circle, the parent seemingly disappears into the heart of its own offspring. The sense of movement on static pages is compelling—all in the form of fine, simple lines and dynamic page turns. This elegant story may tug more at the hearts of adult caregivers, but it surely provides food for thought for more-contemplative children, who may wonder at the notion that both characters at different times are the subjects of the book’s title. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A playful and poignant take on parenthood. (Picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-939810-66-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Elsewhere Editions

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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