Hand this book to girls who might need a boost to their self-esteem, especially girls of color.

I'M GROWING GREAT

An empowering picture book sows seeds of positivity and possibility.

The Black and brown young girls who are the stars of this garden-themed motivational manifesto announce their great pride in how well they’re growing—in mindfulness, hopefulness, calmness, self-awareness, and inner strength. Each girl stands contentedly in a different flower garden, sporting a distinctive, elegant natural hairstyle, and dressed gracefully in a feminine outfit. An affirmation appears on each spread (for example “STEADY AS A TREE! / PEACE WITHIN ME!”) in the form of a rhyming couplet set in large capital letters and followed by the mantra “I am growing great!” Some of these declarations—like “EXPLORING MY FEELINGS! / BRINGS KIND HEALING!”—may go over younger children’s heads; however, kids should have no trouble understanding the book’s final statement: “I am born to be great!” While the author’s intent is admirable, the text feels twee and lacks meaningful emotional content. The ebullient, brightly colored, eye-catching illustrations, set against mostly pastel-colored backgrounds, are the real draw here. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Hand this book to girls who might need a boost to their self-esteem, especially girls of color. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42890-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents.

NAUGHTY NINJA TAKES A BATH

After swinging out from the jungle after a long day of ninja-ing, Will makes his way home just in time for a bath. But as all ninjas know, danger lurks around every corner.

Even naughty ninjas get hungry, but Dad says, “Pee-yew,” and insists his little ninja get clean before going near a morsel. Ever the Naughty Ninja, Will follows his dad into the bathroom and immediately spies danger: Poisonous flies that have followed him from the jungle! As any parent would, his dad begs him not to say, “Ninja to the rescue,” because we all know what comes after a catchphrase…chaos! Through each increasingly rough rescue, Dad finds himself more and more defeated in his quest to complete bathtime, but ultimately he starts to find the infectious joy that only the ridiculousness of children can bring out in an adult. The art is bright and finds some nifty ninja perspectives that use the space well. It also places an interracial family at its center: Dad has brown skin and dark, puffy hair, and Mom is a white redhead; when out of his ninja cowl, Will looks like a slightly lighter-skinned version of his father. Kids will laugh at everything the dad is put through, and parents will knowingly nod, because we have all had nights with little ninjas soaking the bathroom floor. The book starts out a little text heavy but finds its groove quickly, reading smoothly going forward. Lots of action means it’s best not to save this one for bedtime.

Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9433-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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