Overall, a varying presentation turns self-help sour. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

SHY SPAGHETTI AND EXCITED EGGS

A KID'S MENU OF FEELINGS

Inconsistency may be the greatest curse in the culinary world, and the fictional Feelings Restaurant suffers from it.

A menu of emotions (lonely lettuce, angry apples and sorry steak, to name a few) introduces tips for children to healthily address their behavioral responses. Catchy recommendations capture attention, and there’s some truth to be found in the bubbly assertions (“the more you worry, the bigger your worries get!”) Refreshingly, this book offers an appropriately complex exploration. With professional background in clinical psychology, the authors address techniques for families to implement, including counting and breathing exercises, when emotions or negative thoughts overwhelm. The nonjudgmental tone is unfailingly positive, but it’s a shame when the voice veers into patronizing territory. “We’re ALL full of feelings. …but they’re not always easy. That’s why kids need help figuring them out.” Generalizations are unavoidable at this level, but they lead to oversimplification by stereotyping children’s preferences. Repeated exhortation to seek adult support feels more condescending than encouraging (“grown-ups know the most facts of all”), with this same sentiment echoed in the lengthy parents’ note. Bland design elements bog down the animated food, even the sulky cupcakes and boogieing eggs. These light spreads lack the vibrant colors expected in a robust kitchen.

Overall, a varying presentation turns self-help sour. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4338-0956-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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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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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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