May not end complaining altogether, but it’s sure to get a lot of laughs.


Rhymed and subversively, hilariously funny, this British import might well spark discussion while amusing mightily.

The It’s Not Fairy looms on the title page, with lavender, toes-turned-up sneakers, torn-paper wings and a pale blue face. Mary complains when Billy gets ice cream but she just has a pear, and Billy does the same when Mary wins a costume prize and he does not. “IT’S NOT FAIR!” Their parents threaten them with the It’s Not Fairy, but…Dad carries on when he does dishes and no one helps, and Mum when she does all the housework with no help. “IT’S NOT FAIR!” The It’s Not Fairy, enraged by all the whining, announces she is going to just eat everyone up (on the menu: Fried Father with PAmesan). The horrified children placate the fairy by making a list of all the ways they are going to help each other and their parents to make life a little more fair. When the It’s Not Fairy grouses that now she has nothing to eat, everyone complains and carries on until they collapse in an affectionate heap. Even the fairy. A recipe for It’s Not Fairy Cakes is included, chopped-up fairy optional. The illustrations are wild and squiggly and full of wonderful patterns, and the typeface joins in with the fun.

May not end complaining altogether, but it’s sure to get a lot of laughs. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-84780-236-1

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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As insubstantial as hot air.


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

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A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture...


Displaying his distinctive voice and images, Reynolds celebrates the joys and challenges of being a creative spirit.

“I am a HAPPY DREAMER,” cheers a thin, spiky-haired white boy as he flies skyward, streaming yellow swirls of sparkles. This little “dreamer maximus” piles on the energy with colors and noise and the joy-filled exuberance he has for life. “Wish you could HEAR inside my head / TRUMPETY, ZIGZAG JAZZ!” With clear honesty, he shares that the world tells him to be quiet, to focus and pay attention. Like a roller-coaster ride, Reynolds’ text and illustrations capture the energetic side of creativity and the gloom of cleaning up the messes that come with it while providing a wide vocabulary to describe emotional brilliance and resilience. The protagonist makes no apologies for expressing his feelings and embracing his distinct view of the world. This makes him happy. The book finishes with a question to readers: “What kind of dreamer are you?” Hinging outward, the double-page spread opens to four panels, each with a dozen examples of multiracial children being happy and being dreamers, showing inspiring possibilities for exploration. The best way, of course, is to “just BE YOU.”

A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-86501-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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