Like the paper dolls depicted on the endpapers, the characters in this story lack individuality

PEOPLE SHARE WITH PEOPLE

A first lesson in the finer points of sharing.

“People share with people,” asserts the titular refrain, and several kewpie-doll–like children displaying an array of skin colors and hairstyles engage in various activities that depict how easy or difficult it can be for young children to share toys and treats. A secondary refrain is puzzling: “what’s mine is mine, / what’s yours is yours, / but I’ll share mine with you”—shouldn’t the sharing be mutual? Despite an explanation that children are human and not animals and therefore should share, the underlying logic (“Selfish isn’t cute!”) seems quite abstract for a young child. Moreover, “I’ll share when I am done” (depicted by a child slurping from a water fountain while another waits) seems to belie the altruistic premise of the book. Though Wheeler and Idle’s first collaboration, People Don’t Bite People (2018), was good fun, this one feels a little too preachy for this young audience, however praiseworthy the messages of respect and kindness. Friendly illustrations feature cheery colored-pencil scenarios on alternating white and colorful backgrounds. However, the children lack distinctive features that would enable young readers to identify and learn about difference and instead come across as cookie-cutter depictions. Some children of color are rendered in such a way that their noses and mouths are difficult to make out.

Like the paper dolls depicted on the endpapers, the characters in this story lack individuality . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2559-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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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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A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best.

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THE SMART COOKIE

From the Food Group series

This smart cookie wasn’t alwaysa smart cookie.

At the corner of Sweet Street stands a bakery, which a whole range of buns and cakes and treats calls home, including a small cookie who “didn’t feel comfortable speaking up or sharing” any ideas once upon a time. During the early days of gingerbread school, this cookie (with sprinkles on its top half, above its wide eyes and tiny, smiling mouth) never got the best grades, didn’t raise a hand to answer questions, and almost always finished most tests last, despite all best efforts. As a result, the cookie would worry away the nights inside of a cookie jar. Then one day, kind Ms. Biscotti assigns some homework that asks everyone “to create something completely original.” What to do? The cookie’s first attempts (baking, building a birdhouse, sculpting) fail, but an idea strikes soon enough. “A poem!” Titling its opus “My Crumby Days,” the budding cookie poet writes and writes until done. “AHA!” When the time arrives to share the poem with the class, this cookie learns that there’s more than one way to be smart. John and Oswald’s latest installment in the hilarious Food Group series continues to provide plenty of belly laughs (thanks to puns galore!) and mini buns of wisdom in a wholly effervescent package. Oswald’s artwork retains its playful, colorful creative streak. Although slightly less effective than its predecessors due to its rather broad message, this one’s nonetheless an excellent addition to the menu.(This book was reviewed digitally.)

A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304540-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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