Even for the anti-confectionary crowd, a believable, relatable story that avoids a saccharine conclusion.

NOT ENOUGH LOLLIPOPS

A windfall of candy creates a philosophical dilemma for a kindhearted young girl.

When Alice wins the school raffle, she receives "a basket of lollipops so big, the principal pulled it onstage in a wagon.” She wants to share it with her classmates, but the elation of winning this sweet prize gives way to stress when it becomes clear that there may not be enough lollipops for everyone. Predictably, some students try to curry favor and sympathy with Alice, reminding her of their past acts of kindness toward her and regaling her with sob stories; "You're my only hope for candy till Halloween," one kid says mournfully. Other kids advise her to exclude certain students from her provision, claiming that the kindergarteners are too young to handle lollipops and suggesting that the new kids could be overlooked since Alice doesn’t know them very well. As the clamor grows, Alice has to make some hard decisions and learn that you can't please everyone. Luckily, the candy crisis works itself out so that there are more than enough sweets to go around…but what to do with the leftovers? Maynor's writing is flavored with wit and wrapped in moral subtleties. Player's retro-styled illustrations tie the hues of the lollipops to the children's colorful attire but never go overboard; there's plenty of drama around the crushing candy saga without overplaying the visuals. There is some racial diversity to Alice’s classmates, and one child uses a wheelchair. Alice reads as White.

Even for the anti-confectionary crowd, a believable, relatable story that avoids a saccharine conclusion. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-37256-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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