A visual, day-in-the-life adventure that can be used to stimulate literacy-rich conversations with children.

KUNOICHI BUNNY

Superheroes can come in all shapes and sizes.

In this Canadian import, Saya, a toddler with big dark eyes and dark hair, is heading to the park with her dad on a sunny day. Pushed along the sidewalk in her stroller, she sees two cats squabbling and flings her stuffed bunny, Kunoichi (a Japanese word meaning female ninja), toward them, dissolving the feline conflict. Readers soon see that Saya and Kunoichi are a covert superhero team. Over the course of the day’s outing, they stop another toddler’s stroller from rolling away on the bumpy bus ride, rescue a duckling who’s fallen through a sewer grate, and deflect a baseball before it hits a White child at the playground. Dad, utterly unaware of the heroics transpiring right under his nose, patiently retrieves the plush toy time and time again en route to the story’s sweet ending. Children will appreciate the compelling graphic format of this wordless picture book. The illustrations are rendered in a muted palette, and inset panels and splash pages are used to good effect, adding drama and focusing the reader’s attention on Saya’s and Dad’s emotional responses. The story will resonate with young readers who believe their stuffies, too, can save the world. The main characters present as Japanese Canadian. Background characters are diverse and include a woman wearing a hijab.

A visual, day-in-the-life adventure that can be used to stimulate literacy-rich conversations with children. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2780-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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WITH ALL MY HEART

A caregiving bear shares with its cub how love has defined their relationship from the first moment and through the years as the cub has grown.

With rhymes and a steady rhythm that are less singsong-y than similar books, Stansbie seems to have hit a sweet spot for this offering on the I-love-you-always shelf. Readers follow the adult and child as they share special moments together—a sunset, a splash in a pond, climbing a tree, a snuggle—and the adult tells the child that the love it feels has only grown. Stansbie also takes care not to put promises in the adult bear’s mouth that can’t be delivered, acknowledging that physical proximity is not always possible: “Wherever you are, / even when we’re apart… // I’ll love you forever / with all of my heart.” The large trim size helps the sweet illustrations shine; their emphasis is on the close relationship between parent and child. Shaped peekaboo windows offer glimpses of preceding and succeeding pages, images and text carefully placed to work whatever the context. While the die cuts on the interior pages will not hold up to rough handling, they do add whimsy and delight to the book as a whole: “And now that you’re bigger, / you make my heart sing. / My / beautiful / wonderful / magical / thing.” Those last three adjectives are positioned in leaf-shaped cutouts, the turn of the page revealing the roly-poly cub in a pile of leaves, three formed by the die-cuts. Opposite, three vignettes show the cub appreciating the “beautiful,” the “wonderful,” and the “magical.”

Sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-910-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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