An inventive alphabet book for the perceptive reader.

LITTLE i

This unusual alphabet adventure features the little letter i.

“When Little i’s dot fell off, // [it] rolled down a hill, / tumbled over a cliff, / and splashed into the sea.” The rest of the alphabet is puzzled, as without a dot, Little i looks just like a number (which is not specified, but readers who know their numerals will likely think it is a 1). So it sets out to find the missing dot. Fetching up on an island, Little i explores a dark tunnel studded with asterisks, finds a garden of comma-shaped sprouts, encounters a waterfall of exclamation points, and finally finds its dot at “the end of the winding seaside passage.” But now it feels strange to have its dot back on, so Little i decides to leave it behind. When Little i returns to the alphabet without it, the other letters wonder what Little i has become. Why, Big I, of course, and all the letters cheer. The digitally combined collages of painted and cut paper form attractive, bold shapes. Little i is orange with a red dot, and all the letters have eyes, giving them personality. Hall’s playfulness with shapes and colors is more challenging here than in his previous books, and the story takes on a slightly allegorical shape with Little i’s excursion across punctuation. The back endpapers trace i’s journey and interpret it, but whether kids will be confused or charmed by it depends on their level of sophistication.

An inventive alphabet book for the perceptive reader. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-238300-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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

JABARI JUMPS

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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