A simple tale of building a friendship and good memories using few words and luminous artwork.

WORDS TO MAKE A FRIEND

A STORY IN JAPANESE AND ENGLISH

A day in the snow for two kids in two languages.

Readers might be tempted to flip past the frontmatter to the start of the story. But take time to linger over the evocative endpapers that show a big yellow moving truck parked outside a blue and white house in a snowy landscape. An adult and a child, both with pale skin and black hair, are standing on the porch, about to open the door. Turn the page, and there is another adult-and-child pair, both with brown skin and dark hair, bringing their new neighbors a gift of food. Like many friendships, this story builds slowly, one interaction at a time, urging readers to savor each moment. The first child speaks Japanese and the second, English; yet their intent and interactions are seemingly understood, facilitated by snowy-day play and bilingual conversation. Eventually the cold pushes them inside to enjoy Japanese tea, a treat, and origami. Stoop’s captivating mixed-media illustrations depict dramatic perspectives even in the kids’ first meeting, their bold, bright figures striking against a pastel snowy scene. Napoli’s spare text trusts primarily English-speaking readers to derive sufficient meaning from the bilingual spreads while lacking the scaffolding to facilitate deeper cultural comprehension for both kids. Notes from author and illustrator each offer depth and background as well as insight into their artistic partnership.

A simple tale of building a friendship and good memories using few words and luminous artwork. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12227-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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