A thousand mixed messages at the museum.

EXPLORERS

In this almost wordless book, a family of four encounters cultural diversity in the exhibits and the patrons of an urban museum.

None of the text issues from people’s mouths; it is found either on signs or exhibition labels, or it expresses actions. In several pages of frontmatter, readers see the nuclear family—a white dad, a beige-skinned mom, a perhaps school-age child, and a younger child, both white-presenting—meet a scruffy sidewalk vendor advertising “magic.” He creates flying birds from paper and scissors, and, at the older child’s urging, the father buys one. Throughout the book, the child sends the bird flying inside the museum, each time releasing it with a “ksssshhh.” The masterful cartoons convey a dinosaur skeleton with the same ease as the protagonist’s scowling face when a little boy in a brown-skinned Muslim family (mom and sister wear hijab) catches the bird. Although the protagonist’s father appropriately reprimands his offspring for this rudeness, the premise is unlikely (inside a museum, flying objects are discouraged, by guards if not by caregivers). Worse, when the child is inadvertently separated from mom, dad, and sib, a great moment of panic arises when the child stands alone between a brown-skinned family and a family of Orthodox Jews. A sweet double-page spread of multicultural bonding with the Muslim family in the butterfly garden does not diminish disturbing undercurrents.

A thousand mixed messages at the museum. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17496-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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