Both very silly and very appealing. (Picture book. 4-6)

THE WHALE IN MY SWIMMING POOL

A little boy of pleasingly indeterminate ethnicity goes out to his little backyard inflatable pool to find a whale in it.

It’s a very large, round, blue whale, which is kind of squished on top of the pool. It is way, way too big for it. Mom is reading and does not see the whale. The boy tries persuasion, counting to 10, enticing the whale into a game of fetch, even offering his allowance, but the whale does not budge. He even offers his neighbor’s much larger in-ground swimming pool (alert young readers will note the dorsal fin visible in the neighbor’s clear blue waters). Finally, he puts his floatie on top of the whale’s spout, just in time to hear Mom call naptime. That presents its own set of problems: not the toys and socks that are strewn about the bedroom floor, but the snoring occupant of his bed—a large bear with its own teddy. The front endpapers show the blue whale in various positions on the wading pool, the back endpapers show the bear tossing and turning and snoring, all the while clinging to that teddy. All the art is drawn in thick strong line and flat color, simple and accessible. The text comprises the boy’s play-by-play narration of the events, including an endearingly believable whine to his oblivious mother.

Both very silly and very appealing. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-30037-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.

THE THANKFUL BOOK

Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one.

WAY PAST WORRIED

Brock may be dressed like a superhero, but he sure doesn’t feel like one, as social anxieties threaten to rain on his fun    .

Juan’s superhero-themed birthday party is about to start, but Brock is feeling trepidatious about attending without his brother as his trusty sidekick. His costume does not fit quite right, and he is already running late, and soon Brock is “way past worried.” When he arrives at the party he takes some deep breaths but is still afraid to jump in and so hides behind a tree. Hiding in the same tree is the similarly nervous Nelly, who’s new to the neighborhood. Through the simple act of sharing their anxieties, the children find themselves ready to face their fears. This true-to-life depiction of social anxiety is simply but effectively rendered. While both Nelly and Brock try taking deep breathes to calm their anxieties without success, it is the act of sharing their worries in a safe space with someone who understands that ultimately brings relief. With similar themes, Brock’s tale would make a lovely companion for Tom Percival’s Ruby Finds a Worry (2019) on social-emotional–development bookshelves. Brock is depicted with black hair and tan skin, Nelly presents White, and peers at the party appear fairly diverse.

Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8686-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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