Worthy and allusive but with a possibly frustratingly oblique ending.

CIRCLE

From the Shape Trilogy series

Circle, Square, and Triangle play a game together with surprising results.

The three shapes are friends. Illustrator Klassen’s watercolor, graphite, and digitally created illustrations are evocative in their muted palette and spare presentation, the shapes drawn simply, with white, rounded-off oblongs for eyes whose black pupils move back and forth to show action and emotion. One day, Circle suggests a game of hide-and-seek and tells her friends not to hide behind the waterfall, because it is dark. When Circle finishes counting, Square has not moved; he tells Circle, “Triangle went behind the waterfall.” Circle goes to find him, and as she delves deeper, the double-page spreads darken to solid black until only Circle’s white oblong eyes are shown. She sees one set of eyes and begins to upbraid Triangle—and then a third set. Turns out that is the set that belongs to Triangle, and when the two realize they don’t know the other, they rush away in a fright. Safely back in the open, Circle wonders what shape was in the dark and, reflecting on her fear, realizes that the shape wasn’t necessarily “bad” just because she couldn’t see it. While the implied message of the story is a vital one in this xenophobic age and its subtle delivery and imagery encourage further exploration, the story’s final page veers off, asking readers to picture a shape rather than delivering a conclusion.

Worthy and allusive but with a possibly frustratingly oblique ending. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9608-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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