Like its protagonist, this book tries hard to be endearing.

ADORABULL

A perplexed bull ponders the secret of being cute.

Human Tom and bull Alfred have grown up together on a farm, forming a tight friendship. When Tom starts school, Alfred is bored. Then, betrayal: Tom announces he needs a pet that is “absolutely, totally… / …adorable!” Alfred, with his shaggy brown fur and boulder of a body, immediately takes offense. He looks up “adorable” on the farmer’s borrowed phone and finds pictures of fluffy animals in aww-inspiring escapades. Alfred tries to imitate them, with destructive success. Sill stumped, Alfred takes a trip to the hair salon (where readers can see some racial diversity beyond Tom’s white family) for “a new look” that involves lots of curls and bows, but he receives laughter for his troubles. Then Tom offers the discouraged bull a gift: a white kitten! It turns out that Tom’s intention was to give Alfred a friend so he wouldn’t be lonely. As a pair, the animals are “adorable.” The unaffected text never overwhelms the pictures and could offer a transition into independent reading with mostly easily decoded vocabulary. Intentionally juvenile-looking pictures are as rough as Alfred’s temper and as unrefined as his perception of the situation. The characters’ small hands and hooves as well as simplified facial features (small black dots and lines) make them all nonthreatening, matching the book’s sentiment.

Like its protagonist, this book tries hard to be endearing. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-84886-412-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Maverick Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.”

NOODLE AND THE NO BONES DAY

Graziano tells the story of his TikTok-famous pug, Noodle.

Noodle is a silly, stubborn old pug who likes walks and snacks. “He’s a pug who knows what he wants.” Jonathan, his light-skinned owner, loves taking Noodle for walks and sharing snacks—they are a perfect pair. But one day, when it’s time for a walk, Noodle just lies in his dog bed. Even when Jonathan tries to make Noodle sit up, Noodle flops back down. “It’s like he doesn’t have bones!” says Jonathan. Noodle doesn’t seem sick—he just wants snacks and to stay in bed. Finally, Jonathan asks if Noodle would just like to snuggle instead and receives a strong affirmative from the drowsy pug. Together Noodle and his human enjoy a relaxing “no bones day” and learn an important lesson about rest and why it matters for silly, stubborn old pugs and for the humans who love them, too. Many may already be familiar with Noodle through his TikTok videos (if Noodle remains standing when Graziano lifts him, it’s a “bones day”; among Noodle’s followers, a “no bones day” has come to mean a day for self-care and taking it easy). However, this story stands alone and will likely create new fans for a long time to come. Hand-drawn and painted digitally, Tavis’ illustrations rely on a muted palette and rounded images, depicting an appropriately cozy world. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.” (author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66592-710-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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