Whimsical, pretty, and endearing.

BEAR AND BUNNY

Although close friends Bear and Bunny live independently, they decide to acquire a pet together.

In a palette of gentle pastels, two benign, softly cartoonish characters move through pages of woodland and meadow, talking and singing, apart and together. Refreshingly, the animals appear equally content whether together or on their own. They sing. “Wandering together / Wandering together / Wandering together to see what we can see.” This particular little ditty and its pastoral illustration strongly evoke A.A. Milne’s Pooh and Piglet. The youngest readers will be delighted by their own relative sophistication in comparison to the furry friends: “You see, the bear is sure the bunny is a very small bear. The bunny is sure the bear is a very large bunny. This is not so, but it would be too hard to explain it to them. Besides, it doesn’t matter.” This same humor continues through a discussion about what makes an appropriate pet and on to the friends’ eventual choice: a green “kitty” that answers their questions with, “CROAK!” The somewhat lengthy text has a good midpoint for stopping: the first of two naps by the animal friends, before their discussion of pets. The last page of the book is sweet but weak, ending in a conversation; readers may wish that the author had ended with the same narrative voice that so beautifully opens the book.

Whimsical, pretty, and endearing. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7153-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text.

KINDNESS GROWS

Rhyming verses about kindness using a consistent metaphor of widening cracks versus blooming plants are amplified by cutouts on each page.

The art and layout are spectacular, from the cover through the double-page spreads near the end. Racially diverse toddlers are shown engaging in various moods and behaviors, some of which create unhappiness and some of which lead to friendship and happiness. Every page’s color palette and composition perfectly complement the narrative. The initial verso shows two children in aggressive stances, backgrounded by a dark, partly moonlit sky. Between them is a slender, crooked cutout. The large-type text reads: “It all / starts / with a / crack / that we can hardly see. / It happens when we shout / or if we disagree.” The recto shows two children in sunlight, with one offering a pretty leaf to the other, and the rhyme addresses the good that grows from kindness. In this image, the crooked die cut forms the trunk of a tiny sapling. Until the final double-page spreads, the art follows this clever setup: dark deeds and a crack on the left, and good deeds and a growing tree on the right. Unfortunately, the text is far from the equal of the art: It is banal and preachy, and it does not even scan well without some effort on the part of whomever is reading it. Still, the youngest children will solemnly agree with the do’s and don’ts, and they may decide to memorize a page or two.

Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-229-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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