This simple, quiet story conveys the enduring bond between child and dog, with the added appeal of a joke that younger...

MY DOG IS THE BEST

A toddler plays with the family dog, describing their simple activities and extolling the virtues of the pup.

The unnamed narrator is dressed in blue overalls and appears to be a very young child, perhaps 18 months old. The dog is an overweight, nondescript sort who is sleepy and desperately trying to take a nap, while the toddler wants to play. This premise is telegraphed clearly on the title page, as the dog yawns and the toddler hopefully holds out a ball. The child’s simple narration of the dog’s tricks deliberately don’t match the illustrations of the dog’s behavior, as the dog is really sleeping rather than engaging in the described activities. For example, when the child states, “He plays ball,” the dog is shown curled up like a ball. Eventually, the toddler tires of this one-sided game and falls asleep on top of the dog. In a clever conclusion, the dog wakes up ready to play, holding out the same ball with a hopeful “Woof!” The ironic juxtaposition sets up caregiver-child conversations that will introduce preschoolers to the nuances of humor. Minimalist illustrations in soft pastels, tan, and gray have a quiet appeal, but the short text set in tan on white pages suffers from low contrast.

This simple, quiet story conveys the enduring bond between child and dog, with the added appeal of a joke that younger children just beginning to understand humor can enjoy. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-30051-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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WITH ALL MY HEART

A caregiving bear shares with its cub how love has defined their relationship from the first moment and through the years as the cub has grown.

With rhymes and a steady rhythm that are less singsong-y than similar books, Stansbie seems to have hit a sweet spot for this offering on the I-love-you-always shelf. Readers follow the adult and child as they share special moments together—a sunset, a splash in a pond, climbing a tree, a snuggle—and the adult tells the child that the love it feels has only grown. Stansbie also takes care not to put promises in the adult bear’s mouth that can’t be delivered, acknowledging that physical proximity is not always possible: “Wherever you are, / even when we’re apart… // I’ll love you forever / with all of my heart.” The large trim size helps the sweet illustrations shine; their emphasis is on the close relationship between parent and child. Shaped peekaboo windows offer glimpses of preceding and succeeding pages, images and text carefully placed to work whatever the context. While the die cuts on the interior pages will not hold up to rough handling, they do add whimsy and delight to the book as a whole: “And now that you’re bigger, / you make my heart sing. / My / beautiful / wonderful / magical / thing.” Those last three adjectives are positioned in leaf-shaped cutouts, the turn of the page revealing the roly-poly cub in a pile of leaves, three formed by the die-cuts. Opposite, three vignettes show the cub appreciating the “beautiful,” the “wonderful,” and the “magical.”

Sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-910-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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