With great read-aloud potential, this story could be used by both parents and teachers to introduce concepts of courage and...

SUPER MANNY STANDS UP!

This charming story marries the mania for superheroes with a potent anti-bullying message, making it an apt tale for present times.

Super Manny, an imaginative raccoon child, after school regularly dons capes of various colors to battle everything from “an angry army of zombie bears” to “legions of alien robots with laser-beam eyes.” During school he sports an invisible cape that allows him to continue his victorious voyage through his world incognito. Throughout, he declares out loud to the world his own fearlessness and strength in words that children will want to echo. But his courage is tested when Tall One, a lunchroom bully, threatens Small One. Although Manny initially freezes, he remembers his superhero status and his invisible cape and commands the bully to stop. This startles the whole lunchroom of animal kids into recalling their own capes of courage, and they all collectively stand up for Small One, making Tall One beat a hasty retreat. The whimsical illustrations and antics of imaginative Manny (and his new porcupine friend, Small One) will delight children and their grown-ups even as they take in the playfully delivered yet deeply felt message of the importance of standing up for others. Speech balloons vary in size according to the confidence level of the speakers—a highly effective visual.

With great read-aloud potential, this story could be used by both parents and teachers to introduce concepts of courage and standing up to bullies from the youngest preschoolers up . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5960-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 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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