Gnothing to write gnome about.

I'M A GNOME!

A journey to a gnome festival introduces readers to fantastic folk.

The first-person text addresses readers directly as the narrating gnome sets off through the forest. “Oh, don’t shuffle your feet. We don’t have time for that sort of flumadiddle!” their red-capped guide exclaims, but he must pause to explain to the (apparently dawdling) readers that the groups of elves, dwarves, trolls, and fairies they see are not gnomes. The clear lines he tries to make between himself and the other magical beings (elves wear striped leggings; dwarves use pickaxes; trolls have “wild hair”; and fairies fly about) dissolve due to exceptions he makes based on his own gnomish experiences. This dissolution of intergroup differences is reinforced at the festival, where: Gnomes clad in striped bathing suits dip their feet in a pool; another gnome wields a pickax to carve a chocolate statue; several gnomes get wild-looking haircuts (depicted as multicolored, straight strands sticking out from their heads, as opposed to the trolls’ curly “wild hair”); and gnomes fly about astride ducks. Despite this apparent common ground, the groups do stay quite separate from one another throughout the book, though intragroup diversity in appearance (with varied skin and hair colors, some natural to humans, some not) prevents utter homogeneity. There’s humor in art and text, but the story lacks substance, and the digital art borders on the garish.

Gnothing to write gnome about. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1984-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration.

I LOVE DADDY EVERY DAY

Children point out the things they love about their fathers.

“Daddy is always kind. He gives us support and shelter when things go wrong.” A child with a skinned knee (and downed ice cream cone) gets a bandage and loving pat from Daddy (no shelter is visible, but the child’s concerned sibling sweetly extends their own cone). Daddy’s a storyteller, a magician, supportive, loyal, silly, patient, and he knows everything. A die-cut hole pierces most pages, positioned so that the increasingly smaller holes to come can be seen through it; what it represents in each scene varies, and it does so with also-variable success. The bland, nonrhyming, inconsistent text does little to attract or keep attention, though the die cuts might (until they fall victim to curious fingers). The text also confusingly mixes first-person singular and plural, sometimes on the same page: “Daddy is like a gardener. He lovingly cares for us and watches us grow. I’m his pride and joy!” Even as the text mixes number the illustrations mix metaphors. This particular gardener daddy is pictured shampooing a child during bathtime. Más’ cartoon illustrations are sweet if murkily interpretive, affection clearly conveyed. Troublingly, though, each father and his child(ren) seem to share the same racial presentation and hair color (sometimes even hairstyle!), shutting out many different family constellations. Más does, however, portray several disabilities: children and adults wearing glasses, a child with a cochlear implant, and another using a wheelchair.

Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12305-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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