Serviceable but not stellar.

WHAT ABOUT X?

AN ALPHABET ADVENTURE

Time for a field trip with the alphabet.

Welcome to the Alphabet Academy and meet its 26 rambunctious scholars. Today, teacher Question Mark is gathering the letters for a camping trip. Each has something special to bring except for the book’s protagonist, X. As the individual letters make their choices—A brings apples; F brings fishing poles; S gets sunscreen; etc.—X watches and frets over what to bring along. Inspiration finally hits, but it turns out that X’s perfect item isn’t so perfect, only to be reassured by kind alphabet friends how important it is to any camping experience that involves maps. The book’s strategy of introducing letters and corresponding vocabulary words isn’t new, but the story treads this old ground with some style, with the illustrations presenting the occasional object or design that enhances each letter. B is patterned to look like bricks and sports a baseball cap, bling, and boots in addition to the binoculars mentioned in the text; P is covered in polka dots. These subtle hints go astray with other letters, however. Why does M have three eyes? Is it because M has one more? Why does R wear its green hair in a mohawk? Is that to imply rock-star status? Educators and caregivers may have to take a few minutes to explain some artistic choices to inquisitive and observant readers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Serviceable but not stellar. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4078-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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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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