Comforting to the littlest of ones who find themselves in a change of surroundings.

NIEVE EN LA JUNGLA / SNOW IN THE JUNGLE

A tiny polar bear must learn how to cope after moving.

Snow loves her tundra friends, snowy hills, and polar treats. But her mom gets a new job far away, and suddenly Snow must leave everything that she knows. In her new home, vegetation grows thick and green, animals eat strange yellow fruit with a peel, and it is hot. Very, very hot. Snow feels isolated and alone. She can’t even understand what her classmates are saying! Snow tries to make friends, but everyone seems standoffish—until Snow realizes they are busy creating a surprise to make her feel welcome. This chunky little bear (who looks precisely like a chiseled block of ice) slowly finds her way through the anxieties of moving to a new place. One of the most endearing sentiments important for parents to remember: “Only her mother’s hug felt the same as always.” Hofmann-Maniyar, in her picture-book debut, explores a difficult transition that many children face, using a metaphor that rings true. A child experiencing any type of move, whether across the world or across the town, certainly can feel like a polar bear being plopped smack in the middle of a jungle!  (Editor's note: This book was originally reviewed in our Sept. 15, 2015, issue as Ice in the Jungle. On Dec. 1, 2020, the publisher renamed the protagonist and reissued the book in a bilingual Spanish/English edition as Nieve en la jungla / Snow in the Jungle. This review has been updated to reflect these changes.)

Comforting to the littlest of ones who find themselves in a change of surroundings. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78628-515-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

GRUMPY MONKEY

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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