An uplifting ode to the power of taking small steps to make big changes.

YOU ARE HERE

Manbeck offers direction for life’s journeys in his children’s book debut.

Using just one or two pithy sentences per page, the text encourages readers to bravely forge their own paths in the world. Whatever one hopes to accomplish or whatever one’s destination in life, the starting point is “here,” a point of view that suggests that there is power and wisdom in embracing the present moment. Manbeck assures readers that “you can go anywhere!” and includes all-caps imperatives on almost every double-page spread: “Begin”; “Take your time”; “Keep going”; “Be patient”; etc. A major thrust of the narrative is the futility of comparing oneself to others since every person is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all formula for how life should unfold. The whimsical illustrations, rendered in gouache and mixed media with digital editing, show sprightly children and their childlike anthropomorphic animal companions romping on giant fantastical play structures that recall Rube Goldberg machines. Some spreads feature a montage of the characters adventurously exploring a range of fun activities: butterfly watching, rollerblading, riding a penny-farthing, etc. Flowers and butterflies—with their associated meanings of transformation, hope, courage, success, and new beginnings—are used liberally as motifs throughout the colorful artwork. The characters have various skin tones, and one of them uses a wheelchair. Many wear party hats, conveying a mood of celebration; indeed, this book would make a good baby-shower or graduation gift.

An uplifting ode to the power of taking small steps to make big changes. (Gift book. 0-5, adult)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-79721-010-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

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WONDER

After being home-schooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle school life when he looks so different from everyone else?

Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though “his features look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle” and he’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he’s an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He’s smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.” Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too.

A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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Delicious on its own, and it will pair well with other books about gardens, plants and healthy eating habits.

PLANTS FEED ME

This simplest of informational picture books offers a sensible, sunny celebration of the plants—specifically the parts of plants—that we eat.

The opening scene shows a boy seated at table surrounded by a rich harvest. He’s holding a watermelon rind that mirrors the wide grin he wears, helping to set the good-natured tone of the book. As preschoolers examine the pages, they will learn about the featured fruits and vegetables and how they grew. Warm gouache-and–colored-pencil illustrations first depict a garden where “Plants reach up for the sun. / They grow down in the ground.” As the narrator goes on to explain that “I eat different parts from different plants,” such as roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, flowers and seeds, youngsters will find labeled images to peruse. The short, declarative sentences are easily digested by the very youngest and will tempt burgeoning readers to test their skills. Best of all, children will surely be inspired to taste some of the produce the next time it appears on their plates.

Delicious on its own, and it will pair well with other books about gardens, plants and healthy eating habits. (Informational picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2526-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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