Eloquent rhymes with striking imagery are upstaged by busy illustrations.

BEFORE WE MET

An ode from an expectant mother to her unborn child.

Written in first person, rhyming verses find a mother sharing her hopes and envisioning her new life after she births her baby. Each verse begins with the line “Before we met, I dreamt…” as the mother imagines meeting the child she is carrying in her womb. Melmed offers vivid imagery of the baby’s features: skin that is “softer than a flower” and a cry that is “sudden as a shower.” On the last three pages the mother meets her baby face to face. Here the mood transforms from introspective to celebratory, along with an abrupt but not too jarring change in the verses’ beat. Melmed captures the unconditional love an expectant mother has for her baby. The book’s soothing rhymes are an invitation to repeated bedtime readings. Tsong’s ethereal illustrations echo the book’s dream analogy, depicting the mother with long black hair and possibly Asian features. The colors begin with blues and purples as dark as night. Page by page, the colors lighten with splashes of shades of red and orange before exploding into a sunrise. However, her vibrant digital collages are busy and distract from Melmed’s delicate verses, a problem compounded by the setting of the text in a light, thin type that sometimes gets lost on the page.

Eloquent rhymes with striking imagery are upstaged by busy illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4156-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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WITH ALL MY HEART

A caregiving bear shares with its cub how love has defined their relationship from the first moment and through the years as the cub has grown.

With rhymes and a steady rhythm that are less singsong-y than similar books, Stansbie seems to have hit a sweet spot for this offering on the I-love-you-always shelf. Readers follow the adult and child as they share special moments together—a sunset, a splash in a pond, climbing a tree, a snuggle—and the adult tells the child that the love it feels has only grown. Stansbie also takes care not to put promises in the adult bear’s mouth that can’t be delivered, acknowledging that physical proximity is not always possible: “Wherever you are, / even when we’re apart… // I’ll love you forever / with all of my heart.” The large trim size helps the sweet illustrations shine; their emphasis is on the close relationship between parent and child. Shaped peekaboo windows offer glimpses of preceding and succeeding pages, images and text carefully placed to work whatever the context. While the die cuts on the interior pages will not hold up to rough handling, they do add whimsy and delight to the book as a whole: “And now that you’re bigger, / you make my heart sing. / My / beautiful / wonderful / magical / thing.” Those last three adjectives are positioned in leaf-shaped cutouts, the turn of the page revealing the roly-poly cub in a pile of leaves, three formed by the die-cuts. Opposite, three vignettes show the cub appreciating the “beautiful,” the “wonderful,” and the “magical.”

Sweet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68412-910-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Dolphin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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