FLORIDIUS BLOOM AND THE PLANET OF GLOOM

With an explanatory verse that feels tacked on to compensate for an abrupt start, this well-intentioned fantasy about the need for companionship is a flop. After a benign alien named Floridius Bloom captures the light from a fallen star, he is persuaded to leave his walled garden sanctuary by a small extraterrestrial. Feeling warm and secure after a visit with Zrill’s affectionate family, Floridius and his young companion tear down the bricked garden, spreading brightness throughout their gray homeland. The simple prose featuring cryptic dialogue is both choppy and confusing. Why—for instance—is Floridius both enlightened and ignorant about his planet and its citizens? The gentle, mixed-media paintings are probably too soft for their own good, doing little to bridge the story’s communication gap. Whimsy—gone wrong. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8037-3084-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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FLETCHER AND THE FALLING LEAVES

Fletcher is a young fox concerned about his favorite tree. “I think my tree is sick,” he tells his mother, in reference to its brown leaves. His mother tells him not worry, that it’s only autumn. Comforted, Fletcher pats his tree and reassures it. But as leaves begin to fall, Fletcher’s worry increases, and he vows to collect all of the leaves and reaffix them. Despite his best efforts—he even tries to keep other animals from removing the leaves—Fletcher awakes one morning to find that the tree is bare, save one leaf that he brings home for safekeeping. When Fletcher next returns to visit the tree, he is met with a glorious sight: Glittering icicles adorn it. Awed, Fletcher asks if the tree is all right, and a breeze softly shakes its branches, causing them to nod and emit soft laughter. Softly glowing illustrations, evocative and full of depth, are perfectly matched with the warm and lyrical text. A poetic tribute to winter and fall, Fletcher’s story is sure to resonate with young readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-113401-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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