A poignant exploration of depression, grief, and friendship.

MAYBE TOMORROW?

Cheerful green alligator Norris attempts to befriend Elba, a pink hippo burdened by a mysterious black block.

Norris may initially appear to be a suspiciously friendly predator, but, as evidenced by the cloud of butterflies that accompanies him everywhere, he is genuinely considerate. He finds Elba sitting on her block in the park and invites her on a picnic, then continues to check in with her after she declines. Elba is surprised when Norris joins her in sitting on her block, telling her he feels “something [sad] in there” and that “it wants to come out.” “Maybe tomorrow,” he says after they sit in silence each day. With Norris’ patient encouragement—observe his hopeful smile as they drink tea in the rain!—Elba soon agrees to visit the ocean with him, though she doubts she can make it that far with her block: “It’s too heavy….Right?” she asks, which he does not deny, instead responding, “My butterflies and I will help you.” As they slowly walk to the ocean, Elba finally opens up to Norris about the deep sadness her block represents. His empathetic response and its surprising result demonstrate the power of patience, listening, and simply showing up when loved ones are navigating difficult emotions. Ramírez’s illustrations, done in a combination of traditional and digital media, utilize bright, textured colors, simple rounded shapes, and subtle yet eloquent facial expressions to sweetly emphasize the characters’ emotional journey.

A poignant exploration of depression, grief, and friendship. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-21488-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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