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


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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Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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Whether they’re counting scores of peas, enjoying the rhymes and puns or relishing the funny visual quirks, families are...

1-2-3 PEAS

After an alphabetical, rhyming tour de force (LMNO Peas, 2010), Baker’s energetic pea pack is back—this time, to count by ones and 10s.

Baker sidesteps the trickiness of rhyming the numerals by selecting a repeating word for each short verse. “ONE pea searching—look, look, look, / TWO peas fishing—hook, hook, hook.” Those numerals rise sky-high (to peas, at least) to dominate the digitally composed visuals, often serving as props for the frenzy of vegetative activity. At “TEN peas building—pound, pound, pound,” the peas erect a wooden platform around the numeral—mainly, it would seem, as an excuse for exuberantly hammering dozens of nails. Baker circumvents those oft-pesky ’teens in one deft double-page spread: “Eleven to nineteen—skip, skip, skip!” Then it’s a double-page spread per decade, with peas traveling, napping, watching fireworks and more. “SEVENTY peas singing” provide a bevy of details to spy: A fab foursome (the Peatles) rocks out above a chorus and director. Nearby, a barbershop quartet, a Wagnerian soloist, a showering pea and a dancing “Peayoncé” add to the fun. 

Whether they’re counting scores of peas, enjoying the rhymes and puns or relishing the funny visual quirks, families are sure to devour Baker’s latest winner. Totally ap-pea-ling! (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4551-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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