We were all strangers, once, so howdy, stranger.

EDMOND: THE THING

The arrival of a stranger—“the Thing”—roils the placid waters of Edmond the Squirrel and George Owl’s day.

This kid-sized narrative touches on Ryszard Kapuscynski’s notion of “the Other.” Edmond the Squirrel and his friend George Owl are down by the stream gathering feathers, moss, twigs, and pine cones. The still air is broken by a strange sound: “SKRAWK.” They look up and see a…well, a Thing: a small haystack of pink fur. Doesn’t matter that the Thing looks like a plush toy, it gives Edmond and George the collywobbles (“This is clearly a very dangerous Thing,” hoots George), and they beat a retreat. Back at Edmond’s, they gorge on green cookies to muster their bravery, which brings out the worst in Edmond. He paints a sign of the Thing’s image with a big X through it and plants it streamside. Desbordes does not soften the unfortunate turns of xenophobia. George wakes the next day still abuzz with the bravery of the green cookies and decides to see if the Thing is still there, but not before disguising himself in a cloak of moss, a chanterelle for a nose, and white pine ear tuffs. He scares the bejesus out of his friends, including Edmond—but not, critically, the Thing. And what sparks friendship? A cookie, the universal language.

We were all strangers, once, so howdy, stranger. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59270-217-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best.

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THE SMART COOKIE

From the Food Group series

This smart cookie wasn’t alwaysa smart cookie.

At the corner of Sweet Street stands a bakery, which a whole range of buns and cakes and treats calls home, including a small cookie who “didn’t feel comfortable speaking up or sharing” any ideas once upon a time. During the early days of gingerbread school, this cookie (with sprinkles on its top half, above its wide eyes and tiny, smiling mouth) never got the best grades, didn’t raise a hand to answer questions, and almost always finished most tests last, despite all best efforts. As a result, the cookie would worry away the nights inside of a cookie jar. Then one day, kind Ms. Biscotti assigns some homework that asks everyone “to create something completely original.” What to do? The cookie’s first attempts (baking, building a birdhouse, sculpting) fail, but an idea strikes soon enough. “A poem!” Titling its opus “My Crumby Days,” the budding cookie poet writes and writes until done. “AHA!” When the time arrives to share the poem with the class, this cookie learns that there’s more than one way to be smart. John and Oswald’s latest installment in the hilarious Food Group series continues to provide plenty of belly laughs (thanks to puns galore!) and mini buns of wisdom in a wholly effervescent package. Oswald’s artwork retains its playful, colorful creative streak. Although slightly less effective than its predecessors due to its rather broad message, this one’s nonetheless an excellent addition to the menu.(This book was reviewed digitally.)

A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304540-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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