A message-driven text at odds with the art’s fantasy and whimsy.


Poor Billy.

While some stories send the message that it’s OK for boys to cry, the pale-skinned boy in this picture book needs no such assurance. He cries freely, often, and at the slightest provocation; what he needs is help achieving emotional regulation. Fed up with his tantrum over not getting a toy he wanted while out with his mother, Billy’s parents send him to his room, where he weeps and wails, with only his cat to comfort him. Before he falls asleep his mother says that his “tears have flooded the house up to my ankles!”; his father says the flood has reached his knees. Text and art suggest that readers should accept this literally, but readers may wonder whether it is in fact figurative speech that then provokes Billy’s dream of being adrift in a sea of his own tears. Ultimately Tubbs the cat saves the day by drinking down all those tears, then sending Billy falling back into wakefulness and out of his dream. He immediately finds his parents, lesson learned: “while it’s okay to cry sometimes, throwing a tantrum only causes a flood of problems!” This moralistic conclusion offers no practical strategies for readers coming to the book with similar emotional issues. Le’s illustrations feature fine, black outlines and rich colors set on backgrounds that suggest mottled textures.

A message-driven text at odds with the art’s fantasy and whimsy. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60887-730-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Insight Kids

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.


Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one.


Brock may be dressed like a superhero, but he sure doesn’t feel like one, as social anxieties threaten to rain on his fun    .

Juan’s superhero-themed birthday party is about to start, but Brock is feeling trepidatious about attending without his brother as his trusty sidekick. His costume does not fit quite right, and he is already running late, and soon Brock is “way past worried.” When he arrives at the party he takes some deep breaths but is still afraid to jump in and so hides behind a tree. Hiding in the same tree is the similarly nervous Nelly, who’s new to the neighborhood. Through the simple act of sharing their anxieties, the children find themselves ready to face their fears. This true-to-life depiction of social anxiety is simply but effectively rendered. While both Nelly and Brock try taking deep breathes to calm their anxieties without success, it is the act of sharing their worries in a safe space with someone who understands that ultimately brings relief. With similar themes, Brock’s tale would make a lovely companion for Tom Percival’s Ruby Finds a Worry (2019) on social-emotional–development bookshelves. Brock is depicted with black hair and tan skin, Nelly presents White, and peers at the party appear fairly diverse.

Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8686-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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