Both sensitive and sensible: If some dragons can’t be vanquished, with time and help they can be borne.

MY BIG, DUMB, INVISIBLE DRAGON

The weight of profound loss looks just like a dragon as it sits atop a grieving child.

“Have you ever seen an invisible dragon?” the unnamed narrator asks, describing how just such a creature came one day out of the blue and changed everything—making it hard to get out of bed, casting heavy shadows, ignoring tantrums and attempts to bargain. Gradually, though, the dragon takes leave for ever longer intervals, and, at last, after a day in the park with a friend and then an eighth birthday party, even when present it seems less oppressive. The nature of the loss is never directly mentioned, but the narrator remarks that “We had to get used to movie night without her famous peanut brittle popcorn,” as the child snuggles disconsolately with a sad-looking adult, and Sif leaves further hints in glimpses of an open photo album and an extra apron in the kitchen. The semitransparent, cartoonish dragon never looks threatening; by the end it has not vanished but shrunk down to a manageable size. Finally, pointing out that the initial question about seeing an invisible dragon was silly, the child closes with a wonderfully perceptive insight: “You can never see one by looking straight at it. You have to look at the person underneath.” The white-presenting child is never gendered.

Both sensitive and sensible: If some dragons can’t be vanquished, with time and help they can be borne. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68364-184-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sounds True

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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