Smith soars in this earnest, meditative work about longing, the joy of interaction, and family. Absolutely radiant.

THERE IS A TRIBE OF KIDS

A lone child explores the natural world and its many animal tribes, collective noun by collective noun, ultimately finding a place of belonging.

Against a frosty mountain backdrop, a child is hidden among a tribe of kids—goats, that is. After each departs, the youth is left alone until a colony of penguins offers sport. With them there is waddling and ample hugs. But an icy plunge leads the leaf-clad child on. Across jewel-colored waters, bright jungles, and earthy terrains, the protagonist travels, observing, imitating, and playing with the animals. But still there is a loneliness, even among the flight of butterflies—and especially when dwarfed by the moonlit ocean. After a night of dreams, the child climbs from a bed of clams onto the beach to find a trail of colorful shells leading home. Vibrant, refined illustrations propel the story forward. Each spread is gorgeously textured and colored, and everything has a crisp, defined edge. Never one to miss a comedic opportunity, Smith plays with puns in both writing and art. Beginning with the tribe of goat-kids, whom the child tries to blend with, and ending with a tribe of treehouse children whose merry play would invite any reader in, the revelatory repeat of “There is a TRIBE of KIDS” rings as a welcoming mantra of acceptance and love. Witty and humorous, never irreverent, this is a celebration of sharing and belonging, as a multiracial family hugs their adventurer on the closing page.

Smith soars in this earnest, meditative work about longing, the joy of interaction, and family. Absolutely radiant. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62672-056-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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A TREE IS NICE

A nursery school approach to a general concept. "A tree is nice"- Why? Because..."We can climb the tree...play pirate ship...pick the apples...build playhouses out of the leaves. A tree is nice to hang a swing in...Birds build nests in trees... Sticks come off trees...People have picnics there too"...etc. etc. One follows the give and take of a shared succession of reactions to what a tree- or trees- can mean. There is a kind of poetic simplicity that is innate in small children. Marc Simont has made the pictures, half in full color, and they too have a childlike directness (with an underlying sophistication that adults will recognize). Not a book for everyone -but those who like it will like it immensely. The format (6 x 11) makes it a difficult book for shelving, so put it in the "clean hands" section of flat books. Here's your first book for Arbor Day use- a good spring and summer item.

Pub Date: June 15, 1956

ISBN: 978-0-06-443147-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1956

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