With this ahistorical interpretation, this book shows a disregard for both free will and the gradual maturation of talents...

THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU

God’s address to the Hebrew exiles from the Old Testament book of Jeremiah is repurposed in this cheery picture book that emphasizes children’s future careers.

In this decontextualized interpretation of the well-known verse, God narrates the text in a first-person, chatty style (“Hey, YOU!”) that urges children to discover their particular purposes in life, specifically related to career choices (“what I CREATED YOU to do”). The story begins with a fantastical factory in the clouds, controlled by engineers, and the disembodied hand of God pointing at readers. A sort of assembly line with seated, staring children scrolls across the bottoms of the pages, with the boys and girls receiving their professional wardrobes from robotic arms. Above the conveyor belt, smiling children are shown in various jobs wearing relevant career attire, with careful inclusion of children of many ethnicities as well as girls in science, medical, and construction jobs. While the text states that children will “find that one thing / that you love the most,” its overall thrust when combined with the illustrations implies that God chooses a profession for each child at birth and that children should be working toward that profession from an early age. The concluding page urges children to stop reading the book and “go out and find my big plans for YOU.” Readers with unemployed parents or parents toiling in miserable, unhappy jobs will be forgiven for wondering just where in God’s plan their families fit.

With this ahistorical interpretation, this book shows a disregard for both free will and the gradual maturation of talents and personalities. (Picture book/religion. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-310-72410-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for.

THANKFUL

Spinelli lists many things for which people are thankful.

The pictures tell a pleasing counterpoint to this deceptively simple rhyme. It begins “The waitress is thankful for comfortable shoes. / The local reporter, for interesting news.” The pictures show a little girl playing waitress to her brother, who playacts the reporter. The news gets interesting when the girl trips over the (omnipresent) cat. As the poem continues, the Caucasian children and their parents embody all the different roles and occupations it mentions. The poet is thankful for rhyme and the artist, for light and color, although the girl dancer is not particularly pleased with her brother’s painterly rendition of her visual art. The cozy hotel for the traveler is a tent for the siblings in the backyard, and the grateful chef is their father in the kitchen. Even the pastor (the only character mentioned who is not a family member) is grateful, as he is presented with a posy from the girl, for “God’s loving word.” The line is squiggly and energetic, with pastel color and figures that float over white space or have whole rooms or gardens to roam in. Both children, grateful for morning stories, appear in a double-page spread surrounded by books and stuffed toys as their mother reads to them—an image that begs to be a poster.

Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-310-00088-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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The now-classic tale’s humor still fosters eye-rolling laughter, with Wohnoutka’s illustrations as rib-tickling complement.

HANUKKAH BEAR

A well-used trope of misidentification allows a village elder to innocently open her home to a possible predator with humorous, even endearing results.

Despite her advanced age of 97 and her poor eyesight and hearing, Bubba Brayna “still [makes] the best potato latkes in the village.” When Old Bear is awakened from his winter sleep by the savory aroma of frying latkes and comes to her door, Bubba Brayna invites him in for a fresh batch, mistaking the bear’s rotund girth and bushy face for the heavy-set bearded rabbi’s. Heading straight for the kitchen, the growling bear is encouraged to play dreidel with nuts he chooses to eat, then devours all the latkes with jam like any hungry bear would. Sleepy and satisfied, he leaves with a gift of a red woolen scarf around his neck. After some investigating by the crowd that has gathered at Bubba Brayna’s door, which includes the actual rabbi, a new batch of potatoes are brought from the cellar, and with everyone’s help, Bubba Brayna hosts a happy Hanukkah. This newly illustrated version of The Chanukkah Guest, illustrated by Giora Carmi (1990), is a softer rendition, with acrylic paints and curved lines in tints of yellow, brown and green for warm, earthy atmosphere.

The now-classic tale’s humor still fosters eye-rolling laughter, with Wohnoutka’s illustrations as rib-tickling complement. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2855-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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