Plants are pretty but passive, and it’s doubtful many readers will find them meaningful stand-ins for parenting.

I'M GLAD THAT YOU'RE HAPPY

A smiling plant narrates its life story, beginning the day that it is potted.

It is a happy moment when Mr. Florist holds a big green plant who shares its pot with a smaller plant. They live an idyllic existence in a flower shop filled to overflowing with many beautifully colored blooms. Customers happily sniff their ways through the selections. Then there’s more joy as a man with a garden takes them home, one that is filled with other plants and with many paintings of even more plants. They, the plants, are not passive observers but share in the good times and the bad. Then comes change—necessary but so traumatic. The smaller plant needs more space for its own roots. It is a move for the better, and once it’s done the bigger plant is oh so happy. Their future is full of birds singing and children playing. Perhaps this is a story about how to grow plants, but more likely it’s intended as a parable about parenting, nurturing, and letting go while maintaining bonds. The Iranian-born author and artist, who now lives in Canada, tells her tale of child-rearing with a positive and fairly glowing feeling of all-around goodness. She uses pastels, colored pencils, and collage in an impressionistic palette that gives her words an almost dreamy setting. Her characters are all white.

Plants are pretty but passive, and it’s doubtful many readers will find them meaningful stand-ins for parenting. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77306-122-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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A strong, accessible diary story for readers seeking an adorable animal tale.

PUG'S SNOW DAY

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 2

Bub the anxious pug tackles snow days and new neighbors in his second outing.

Bub, acclaimed by some as “the cutest pug on the planet,” at first shares the enthusiasm owner Bella expresses about snow days even though he doesn’t know what they are. Then Duchess the cat (mildly antagonistic, in typical feline fashion) rains on Bub’s parade by pointing out that snow is water—and Bub’s no fan of rain or baths. After a comedic and disastrous first attempt, Bub learns how to properly dress for snow and enjoy it. The outdoor fun’s cut short by mysterious noises coming from the new neighbor, which frighten Bella into thinking there’s a monster. Bub puts on a Sherlock Holmes get-up to investigate but becomes afraid himself of the new neighbor’s large dog. Finally, Bella meets Jack, who’s been working on a tree fort, and his dog, Luna, who is enthusiastically friendly. The story ends on a positive note, as they all happily work together on the fort. The full-color cartoon illustrations, especially of Bub, are adorably expressive and certain to please the age group. The generous font and format—short, diary-entry paragraphs and speech-bubble conversations—create a quick pace. Bub’s stylized emoji bubbles return and are most hilarious when used to express his nervous flatulence. Bella and Jack both present white.

A strong, accessible diary story for readers seeking an adorable animal tale. (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53006-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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