Nice try, but there’s not much here to encourage repeat reads, even with pie.


Repeated attempts yield enjoyable rewards.

That’s apparently the moral of this Canadian import, in which Charlie, an itinerant collector, gathers stuff into his cart in his urban neighborhood and tries to reuse it. From her window, Aunt Myrtle spots a pie in a box on the sidewalk. Charlie wants to eat it but, reminded by Aunt Myrtle the pie’s not his, instead attempts to find the owner on his rounds. Charlie tries to help a girl retrieve her ball; he can’t, though he learns the pie isn’t hers. He fashions a birdbath from a tire—but the pie doesn’t belong to the birds nor to a kid who plays the tuba badly. Having failed to locate the pie’s owner, Charlie returns home. In a pat conclusion, Aunt Myrtle invites the community to gather for a pastry feast. This tale, narrated in present tense, meanders with Charlie; seemingly, its point is to keep trying. Fair enough, but some may feel it should also have strongly tried to dissuade readers from eating food found on streets, boxed or not. Loose, quirky, colorful illustrations, some in panels, depict broad overviews of a city; some are superimposed on photos of urban backgrounds. Dialogue is often set in colored boxes. Brown-bearded Charlie presents white and is casually attired in a green ten-gallon hat and yellow boots; other characters are racially diverse. Aunt Myrtle is a black woman who uses a motorized wheelchair. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-17.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

Nice try, but there’s not much here to encourage repeat reads, even with pie. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-180-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.


Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side.


A boy gets an unusual payoff after wishing on a star.

Sitting outside one night, Clyde notices a lone star in the sky. He recites the “Star light, star bright” incantation and makes a wish. Disappointed when it doesn’t come true, he returns home. But later, while he’s asleep, the star he’d wished on sneaks into his bedroom and makes a wish on him! Startled awake, Clyde wonders how to grant Star’s wish. He shares some ideas (and actual objects) with her: a game of checkers, tent camping, tossing a Frisbee, and walkie-talkies. Star likes them, but they’re not her wishes; Clyde confides there’s no one to enjoy them with—and wonders if perhaps Star had wished for a friend. No one will be surprised at what Clyde next confesses to Star. The pair winds up playing together and becoming besties. This is a sweet but thin and predictable story about making friends. Still, readers will appreciate meeting feisty, celestial Star. The author reaches for humor using colloquialisms (“freaked out”), and kids will like the comfortable familiarity that develops between the cheery protagonists. The colored-pencil illustrations are rendered in a limited palette of mostly dark blues and purples, appropriate to the nighttime setting. Star is a luminous, pale yellow with a white topknot and has a star-dappled aura around her. Purple-pj’d Clyde wears bunny slippers and presents White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-17132-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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