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I BELIEVE IN YOU by Elias Barks Kirkus Star


From the Hazy Dell Love & Nurture Books series

by Elias Barks ; illustrated by George Bletsis

Pub Date: Dec. 29th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-948931-17-5
Publisher: Hazy Dell Press

Playful cryptids model unconditional love and acceptance for the board-book set.

Gorgeous colors, tones, and textures combine with an off-kilter cast and conceit to lend charm to what could easily feel maudlin. Rhymed text provides a vehicle for caregivers to deliver a warm and reassuring message of unconditional love to their charges. The verse is delivered in a style that borders on Hallmark-lite, but despite this—or perhaps because of it—author Barks and illustrator Bletsis wring ironic charm by pairing the unabashed sentiment with playful paranormal hijinks. The result feels improbably special, offering an opportunity to bask in the bond between caregiver and child. Hearing the titular phrase, “I believe in you,” repeated between parent and child sea serpents as they swim around Loch Ness is endearing and clever. The message doesn’t feel trite. Golden skies, rolling hills, and blue waters reflecting the bright yellow hues of the sun lend an air of magic to Nessie’s home. The text is not Shakespeare, but the message is clear: “From the bright golden dawn // to your cute bedtime yawn, / I believe in you. // Some people may doubt, / but we’ll tune them out. // And I’ll believe in you. // All the friends that you make, / will know you’re not fake. // They’ll believe in you.” The accompanying illustrations of wee Nessie playing joyfully with Bigfoot, a ghost, an ET, and a winged unicorn are clinchers.

Lovely, sweet, and warmly offbeat.

(Board book. 2-5)