Despite misgivings, it’s a sweet story centering on a bright, black birthday girl, and on that front it takes the cake.

MITZI TULANE, PRESCHOOL DETECTIVE IN WHAT'S THAT SMELL?

From the Mitzi Tulane, Preschool Detective series , Vol. 1

Mitzi Tulane may be a preschool detective, but she is also a birthday girl.

She doesn’t know that yet, though. Her first clue is that she smells a new smell in the kitchen. Baby Kev doesn’t give her any help in figuring things out, and neither does Daddy. She finds him shaving in the bathroom, which is odd since it’s Sunday, and he usually stays “scratchy all weekend.” Undaunted, Mitzi continues to investigate, and she gets yet more clues when grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins arrive. They add to the matter-of-fact multiracial cast of characters—the extended family includes aunties and cousins with a range of skin tones and hair textures, while Mitzi, with brown skin and curly dark hair, appears black, and her fair-skinned parents and baby brother are white. Confusingly, relatives’ clothing doesn’t seem to remain the same from one spread to the next, so it’s hard to track their presence in different scenes as Mitzi solves the mystery that it is her birthday. (That eponymous smell from the kitchen? It’s her birthday cake.) It’s also a bit hard to believe that such a smart, inquisitive child would be unaware of her approaching fourth birthday when this is such a big deal to most kids.

Despite misgivings, it’s a sweet story centering on a bright, black birthday girl, and on that front it takes the cake. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-449-81915-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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