This book nicely helps young readers process a common concern even though the illustrations and text contain a few awkward...

MY TEACHER'S NOT HERE!

A group of schoolchildren are apprehensive about spending a school day with a substitute teacher, but they manage to get through with help from one another.

The narrator, a cat, arrives at school only to find that beloved Miss Seabrooke is gone for the day. But Miss Seabrooke left a comforting note on the whiteboard for the class, and it encourages the cat to seek help from her friends, to be kind to her classmates, and to give the substitute a chance. In general, Battuz’s hand-drawn and digitally collaged illustrations are sweet. Miss Seabrooke is perfectly rendered as a capable hen caretaker. However, some illustrations may strike readers as odd. On multiple pages, readers see the substitute, a giraffe, only from the waist down even though he’s often depicted in full on several other pages. Though it seems to be an attempt to show him from the students’ perspective, it feels abrupt, especially with abundant white space or little background on those pages. The rhyming quatrains flow nicely in general, but the narrator’s tendency to capitalize some is distracting. Some appear to be for emphasis, while others are not so easy to understand. Though school goes well for the cat, the book ends realistically, with an expression of anxiety about who might be teaching the next day.

This book nicely helps young readers process a common concern even though the illustrations and text contain a few awkward quirks. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77138-356-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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