Well-written and full of fun surprises.

ARLO DRAWS AN OCTOPUS

When Arlo becomes frustrated with his octopus drawing, he finds encouragement in the drawing of a newfound friend.

“One day, quite unexpectedly,” Arlo, a brown-skinned boy with curly hair, bursts into his home having made a decision: He is going to draw an octopus. But the head he draws doesn’t look quite like an octopus head. He picks up another crayon and draws eight arms. But the arms don’t look like octopus arms. By the time he finishes the suction cups, Arlo is dismayed by how little resemblance his drawing bears to an octopus. “Perturbed,” he crumples up his drawing and tosses it away. When he goes to retrieve it for proper disposal, the crumpled drawing he picks up is not his at all. It is an octopus’ drawing—of Arlo! Each subject likes the other’s rendering, and Arlo is inspired anew. Arlo’s roller coaster of emotions will feel comfortingly familiar to anyone whose enthusiasm has ever been dampened by perfectionism. When he gets back on the proverbial horse, readers will feel relief and may themselves have learned a thing or two about not being too hard on oneself. Dramatic characters in smooth colors mix with crayon-textured embellishment for an engaging foray into Arlo’s emotional journey. Arlo never questions the sudden appearance of this marine creature in his home, adding an appealing layer of absurdity and causing readers to question what’s imagination and what’s reality. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Well-written and full of fun surprises. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4201-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more