Surprises, mayhem, potty humor, sharks, and ice cream: What’s not to like? (Picture book. 4-6)

DUDE!

Once children can recognize and read the title, they will easily be able to navigate the rest of this book. “Dude!” is (almost) the only word uttered throughout the story.

Sometimes it is printed in large capital letters, sometimes in diminutive lowercase. The word may be surrounded by a jagged speech bubble, stretched out with five U’s, spoken by one or many, or decorated with sprinkles, but part of the fun of this picture book with graphic-novel overtones is interpreting the proper intonation from the context. A platypus and a beaver are the first two friends to call out to each other as they race to the beach, surfboards at the ready. After an encounter with sea-gull droppings (heralded with one of the few additional words: “SPLAT!”), a shark is spotted. It is cajoled with ice cream, so the nervous duo’s chorus is soon voiced by an exultant trio. Santat varies the page design to pace the over-the-top emotions and action, employing diagonally framed panels, cameos, small insets, and full-bleed double-page spreads. Disaster occurs at the rocks, and if observant readers hadn’t noticed the warning sign at the story’s opening, subsequent readings will reveal this foreshadowing and other clever details. The three dudes resolve the damage, ultimately sharing a sweet denouement under the sunset.

Surprises, mayhem, potty humor, sharks, and ice cream: What’s not to like? (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-603-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.

THE THANKFUL BOOK

Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one.

WAY PAST WORRIED

Brock may be dressed like a superhero, but he sure doesn’t feel like one, as social anxieties threaten to rain on his fun    .

Juan’s superhero-themed birthday party is about to start, but Brock is feeling trepidatious about attending without his brother as his trusty sidekick. His costume does not fit quite right, and he is already running late, and soon Brock is “way past worried.” When he arrives at the party he takes some deep breaths but is still afraid to jump in and so hides behind a tree. Hiding in the same tree is the similarly nervous Nelly, who’s new to the neighborhood. Through the simple act of sharing their anxieties, the children find themselves ready to face their fears. This true-to-life depiction of social anxiety is simply but effectively rendered. While both Nelly and Brock try taking deep breathes to calm their anxieties without success, it is the act of sharing their worries in a safe space with someone who understands that ultimately brings relief. With similar themes, Brock’s tale would make a lovely companion for Tom Percival’s Ruby Finds a Worry (2019) on social-emotional–development bookshelves. Brock is depicted with black hair and tan skin, Nelly presents White, and peers at the party appear fairly diverse.

Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8686-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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