A reassuring story that should leave readers feeling a bit more self-confident.

THE VERY LAST LEAF

How do leaves know when to fall?

Lance Cottonwood is the sharpest leaf in school. He aces all his courses, including Budding, Wind Resistance, Photosynthesis 101, and Pigment Changing. The autumn semester brings anxiety, though. How will he pass the final exam and float effortlessly from his tree to the ground as he’s supposed to? Lance has a big problem for a leaf: He’s afraid of falling. He makes excuses for not doing it, then determines to emulate an evergreen cluster and remain tree-bound all winter. After a kindly teacher helps him overcome his fears, he decides to just do it. With encouragement from teacher and schoolmates, Lance lets go and lands on the ground safely. This jaunty, endearing autumn story might help anxious youngsters confront their own apprehension at facing worrisome experiences. Even though Lance literally lets go, he doesn’t let go of his fears but rather understands and accepts them—and performs the scary activity anyway, feeling proud of himself afterward. Besides reassuring readers, the tale provides some facts about trees. Autumn-colored display type, sometimes capitalized, appears throughout to express Lance’s and other characters’ dialogue. The charming illustrations depict sweet-faced, expressive, heart-shaped Lance and fellow leaves rendered in fall colors. A fact-based “progress report” for Lance appears on the final page.

A reassuring story that should leave readers feeling a bit more self-confident. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68446-104-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more