Kids may respond to the shaggy yak, but that may not be enough for real staying power.


Animal-friendship stories are plentiful, but this one is an unusual pairing of characters.

When Dove asks Yak, “Do you ever wish we were twins?” Yak answers, “No, Dove.” Dove persists, citing all of the nifty things they could do, like wear matching clothes, invent rhyming names, live in the same house, and eat an equal number of cupcakes. But the nice possibilities soon turn into carping. Yak calls Dove “ill-mannered,” and Dove calls Yak “smelly,” and just like that, they are no longer friends. “Lamenting,” Yak tells Marmot of this newfound need for a friend, so Marmot holds auditions for a talent show. Wolf’s declared the winner, but it’s Dove who wins back Yak’s heart. Friends again, they make a quiet garden together. Watercolor, gouache, and colored-pencil illustrations dramatize the differences in the characters’ sizes and add touches of whimsy, often in the form of the lightly anthropomorphized animals’ attire. Yak likes footwear (kids will especially like the four high-top sneakers in one vignette); Dove wears the occasional tiny accessory; Wolf wears a blue tutu and bra. The text is entirely delivered in a question-and-answer repartee (individual types for each character) that both moves the story along and maintains the characters’ gender ambiguity. Still, agreeable though it is, it lacks the charm and characterization of such standards as Frog and Toad.

Kids may respond to the shaggy yak, but that may not be enough for real staying power. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77049-494-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.


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.


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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