Kids won’t be stone faced and will definitely stick with this delightful story about friendship.

STICK AND STONE

BEST FRIENDS FOREVER!

From the Stick and Stone series

When you search for family—and discover it’s always been there.

The pals introduced in Stick and Stone’s first eponymous outing (2015) set out on a quest for Stick’s literal family tree. From what kind of tree did he break off? Oak, spruce, willow? The duo ventures forth, determined to find Stick’s origins, traversing bodies of water, forests, valleys, and mountains. Though surrounded by trees, Stick can’t find his familial roots. Soon, things turn ominous: Darkness falls, shadows and strange noises become unnerving, and the terrified pair realizes they’re lost. No fear, though. They eventually return safely, and Stone helps disconsolate Stick understand who his family is and always has been—and that differences don’t matter. This sweetly adorable story, expressed textually through simple, jaunty verse, conveys the reassuring message that family and true friends always (ahem) stick by you when you need them. The bright illustrations, aptly set mostly in nature, are equally endearing, with the protagonists exuding optimism and cheerfulness (except during that scary forest adventure). They register a broad range of expressions, though their faces are created merely from dots and curves denoting broad smiles. Brownish Stick bears pairs of short, chunky projectiles connoting limbs; his tilted head resembles a wizard’s cap. Stone is orange-brown and looks like a rotund meatball. Endpapers feature numerous smiling iterations of Stick representing branches from different trees; included labels and leaves show variances.

Kids won’t be stone faced and will definitely stick with this delightful story about friendship. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-47302-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places.

A GIFT FOR NANA

All gifts are perfect when they come from the heart.

Rabbit goes on a “journey through a green and grand forest” in order to get a gift for his nana even though it is “not even a major hare holiday.” He travels very far in search of the perfect gift and encounters many new friends whom he asks for help. Each of them proffers Rabbit something they can easily make or acquire: The moon offers a “crescent smile,” a whale proposes a glass of water, and so on. Ultimately, Rabbit finds the perfect gift for Nana all on his own, and his nana absolutely adores it. Although the story is a bit predictable, it is amusing—readers will laugh at the anthropomorphic volcano’s explosion and Rabbit’s exhaustion from his journey, among other chucklesome scenes. Smith’s gesso, oil, and cold wax illustrations are exquisite and almost ethereal. The friendly, many-eyed creature referred to as a “stickler” is at once haunting and intriguing. The moon is Tim Burton–esque and seems to glow and pop off the page. Pleased with his choice of gift, Rabbit has the moon’s smile on his face. The predominance of full-bleed double-page spreads accentuates Rabbit’s long quest. The different font sizes, styles, and colors will aid emerging readers with diction when reading aloud but might prove difficult for those with dyslexia. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43033-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side.

TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE KID

A boy gets an unusual payoff after wishing on a star.

Sitting outside one night, Clyde notices a lone star in the sky. He recites the “Star light, star bright” incantation and makes a wish. Disappointed when it doesn’t come true, he returns home. But later, while he’s asleep, the star he’d wished on sneaks into his bedroom and makes a wish on him! Startled awake, Clyde wonders how to grant Star’s wish. He shares some ideas (and actual objects) with her: a game of checkers, tent camping, tossing a Frisbee, and walkie-talkies. Star likes them, but they’re not her wishes; Clyde confides there’s no one to enjoy them with—and wonders if perhaps Star had wished for a friend. No one will be surprised at what Clyde next confesses to Star. The pair winds up playing together and becoming besties. This is a sweet but thin and predictable story about making friends. Still, readers will appreciate meeting feisty, celestial Star. The author reaches for humor using colloquialisms (“freaked out”), and kids will like the comfortable familiarity that develops between the cheery protagonists. The colored-pencil illustrations are rendered in a limited palette of mostly dark blues and purples, appropriate to the nighttime setting. Star is a luminous, pale yellow with a white topknot and has a star-dappled aura around her. Purple-pj’d Clyde wears bunny slippers and presents White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-17132-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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