Outdoor enthusiasts will celebrate this brave young heroine as she schools the town on acceptance.

HATTIE & HUDSON

A lanky, little explorer paddles her canoe on a lake and inadvertently sings up a huge, green beast.

All the other boaters scatter in a panicked frenzy, but later that night, under a moonlit sky, Hattie McFadden returns to the middle of the still lake. Without the distraction of motor boats, the white redhead takes the time to befriend Hudson. The next day, the townsfolk meet to suggest ways to get rid of “the Deadly Beast.” Dismayed, Hattie thinks, “If only they knew him.” The two new friends put together a plan to convince the town of Hudson’s kindness. Hattie bravely finds her voice and makes an announcement to the town: “This lake is his home, and I think he deserves to stay. Once you get to know him, I’m sure you’ll agree.” The glory of lakeshore life is celebrated as idyllic, with lush forests and hills and cool blue water. An undercurrent of environmentalism is present in the symbolic canoe compared to motorboats, and the message of getting to know strangers is a timely one. The gouache illustrations are filled with details that bring light and life to the pages, from each water droplet to every rolled-up sleeve. Hudson, although enormous, is drawn with expressive eyes and a lovely green hue that reflects the stars in the sky, and Van Dusen expertly takes advantage of perspective and composition to make sure readers remember at all times exactly how huge Hudson is.

Outdoor enthusiasts will celebrate this brave young heroine as she schools the town on acceptance. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6545-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture...

HAPPY DREAMER

Displaying his distinctive voice and images, Reynolds celebrates the joys and challenges of being a creative spirit.

“I am a HAPPY DREAMER,” cheers a thin, spiky-haired white boy as he flies skyward, streaming yellow swirls of sparkles. This little “dreamer maximus” piles on the energy with colors and noise and the joy-filled exuberance he has for life. “Wish you could HEAR inside my head / TRUMPETY, ZIGZAG JAZZ!” With clear honesty, he shares that the world tells him to be quiet, to focus and pay attention. Like a roller-coaster ride, Reynolds’ text and illustrations capture the energetic side of creativity and the gloom of cleaning up the messes that come with it while providing a wide vocabulary to describe emotional brilliance and resilience. The protagonist makes no apologies for expressing his feelings and embracing his distinct view of the world. This makes him happy. The book finishes with a question to readers: “What kind of dreamer are you?” Hinging outward, the double-page spread opens to four panels, each with a dozen examples of multiracial children being happy and being dreamers, showing inspiring possibilities for exploration. The best way, of course, is to “just BE YOU.”

A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-86501-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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