A comforting support of the right to make love-related decisions; softness in a slightly sad world.


A genuine conversation about love and expressing it.

In a diverse animal classroom—worm to giraffe, kangaroo to ladybug—an assignment is posted on the whiteboard: “Show your Love.” Lion, looking vulnerable rather than angry, “roar[s]”: “For whom? For what? And WHY?!” The task seems “impossible…undoable…unimaginable.” Luckily, Lion’s friend Mouse understands that glittery craft supplies and pink paper hearts aren’t Lion’s cup of tea. Patiently, he talks Lion through the process of identifying what he doesn’t love (hugs, kisses, dessert—he prefers broccoli!) and what he does: badminton with a pine cone as shuttlecock; growling, roaring, running, chasing, and catching; and his friendship with Mouse. Liwska’s art blankets everything with her trademark softness, which serves to mute words like roar and growling and Lion’s description as “fearsome.” From gentle browns and warm grays to the animals’ downy fur and cottony edges, nothing is aesthetically threatening. This artistic softness, in turn, leaves room for visual content with edge: the subtlest reference to Lion’s natural role as a predator of, perhaps, mice; a school lesson featuring a (textually unremarked) film about pollution, smokestacks, and soot; a single illustration, clearly a memory, in which Lion wears a mask and holds a stiff tape measure between himself and Mouse, nodding oh so quietly to the pandemic, presumably in this book’s past. (Mouse’s mask hangs off his ear because he’s eating.)

A comforting support of the right to make love-related decisions; softness in a slightly sad world. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-68119-124-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.”


Graziano tells the story of his TikTok-famous pug, Noodle.

Noodle is a silly, stubborn old pug who likes walks and snacks. “He’s a pug who knows what he wants.” Jonathan, his light-skinned owner, loves taking Noodle for walks and sharing snacks—they are a perfect pair. But one day, when it’s time for a walk, Noodle just lies in his dog bed. Even when Jonathan tries to make Noodle sit up, Noodle flops back down. “It’s like he doesn’t have bones!” says Jonathan. Noodle doesn’t seem sick—he just wants snacks and to stay in bed. Finally, Jonathan asks if Noodle would just like to snuggle instead and receives a strong affirmative from the drowsy pug. Together Noodle and his human enjoy a relaxing “no bones day” and learn an important lesson about rest and why it matters for silly, stubborn old pugs and for the humans who love them, too. Many may already be familiar with Noodle through his TikTok videos (if Noodle remains standing when Graziano lifts him, it’s a “bones day”; among Noodle’s followers, a “no bones day” has come to mean a day for self-care and taking it easy). However, this story stands alone and will likely create new fans for a long time to come. Hand-drawn and painted digitally, Tavis’ illustrations rely on a muted palette and rounded images, depicting an appropriately cozy world. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.” (author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66592-710-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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

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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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