A bright, bold picture book about a world of sweets.

THE SUGAR PLUM TREE

The Sugar Plum Tree stands at the heart of a magical gardena wonderland for children with good imaginations—in this debut children’s tale.

This picture book is the work of three sisters, working together under the pen name Katherine James. According to the authors, they based it on a bedtime story they were told many times throughout their childhood, in which they traveled to a world made of candy in their dreams. The next morning, they would wake to find that some candy returned with them, in the form of goody bags that they’d find under their beds. Clearly, this book is intended as a bedtime story, as it begins with the phrase, “Come little child cuddle closer to me / as you lay your sleepy head down,” and later adds, “Now sleep little child, dream all through the night to make your wishes come true.” The Garden of Shut-Eye Town, where the Sugar Plum Tree resides, is a candy-loving child’s fantasy, full of chocolates, lollipops, “fizzy pops and zippity-zaps.” The tree itself bursts with as much candy as a child could want. It’s too high to climb, but luckily, a chocolate cat and gingerbread dog are there to help children out. In order to accurately mirror the authors’ childhood tradition, the book closes with a promise of more candy to come: “And when you awake, tradition has said magically there will be / candy treasures beneath your bed, for those who believe... / in the Sugar Plum Tree.” The verse is paired with bold, colorful illustrations. Here, the focus is on the candy, and the bright, cartoonish images make it hard to miss; children, as well as the aforementioned cat and dog, appear largely at the periphery. Although the overall story might be too saccharine for some readers, the bright colors and verse effectively depict the magical land. However, the book does make a promise that parents might be expected to keep when the story is done.

A bright, bold picture book about a world of sweets.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-6515-85004-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: LilyLu & TT2 Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 2, 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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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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