A lovely and hopeful philosophical exercise.

FINDING MUCHNESS

HOW TO ADD MORE LIFE TO LIFE

Follow your heart, and your life will increase in richness and joy.

Whether it’s taking chances, tackling a problem, experimenting with new ideas, or being brave enough to try new things, Yamada (Trying, 2020, etc.) is a master at encouraging young ones. This time he expands on these themes, presenting a platform for living the best kind of life. Finding what you love is only the first step. Readers are exhorted to take every bit of promise, creativity, and determination they have, then practice, stretch it to its limits, and turn it into achievement. Every clichéd bit of advice is included, but there is no sense of preaching or condescension, and it all somehow feels fresh and new. It speaks directly to young readers in a gentle, warm tone and offers a blueprint for choosing the better path. Santoso’s engaging little duckling, whose pale yellow beak and feet are the only bits of color in the mostly taupe and gray illustrations, acts out Yamada’s suggestions with humor and gusto. Matching action to the text with just enough exaggeration to prove the point, the duckling exudes enthusiasm; it makes every effort to create, to bravely seek adventure, and to find the joyful heart of every endeavor. Will young readers and their grown-ups find “muchness” and ways to “add more life to life?” Perhaps and perhaps not, but they will certainly find much to savor and discuss

A lovely and hopeful philosophical exercise. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-970147-43-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Celebrate a truly accepting multicultural character.

LOLA LEVINE IS NOT MEAN!

From the Lola Levine series , Vol. 1

Brown introduces a smart, young protagonist with a multicultural background in this series opener for chapter-book readers.

Second-grader Lola Levine is half-Peruvian and half-Jewish; she is a skilled soccer player, a persuasive writer, and aspires to own a cat in the near future should her parents concede. During a friendly recess soccer match, Lola, playing goalie, defends an incoming ball by coming out of her box and accidentally fouls a classmate. And so Lola acquires the rhyming nickname Mean Lola Levine. Through Lola’s first-person narration, readers see clearly how her savvy and creativity come from her family: Dad, who paints, Mom, who writes, and a fireball younger brother. She also wears her bicultural identity easily. In her narration, her letters to her friends, and dialogue, Lola easily inserts such words as diario, tía, bubbe, and shalom. For dinner, the family eats matzo ball soup, Peruvian chicken, and flan. Interspersed throughout the story are references to all-star soccer athletes, from Brazilian master Pelé to Mia Hamm, Briana Scurry, and David Beckham. Dominguez’s black-and-white illustrations are cheery and appealing, depicting a long-haired Caucasian father and dark-skinned, black-haired mother. Typefaces that emulate penmanship appropriately differ from character to character: Lola’s is small and clean, her mother’s is tall and slanted, while Juan’s, the injured classmate, is sloppy and lacks finesse.

Celebrate a truly accepting multicultural character. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-25836-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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