Poignant but not overly sentimental—and actually quite light in some places—this quiet offering opens up a discussion of a...

FORGET ME NOT

A delicate, perceptive look at an elderly loved one with dementia.

Julia’s grandmother’s eyes sparkled like candles on a cake, and she always smelled like lilac and cinnamon whenever they cuddled up close. But lately, “ever so slowly, like a low tide leaving the bay, a change came along.” Julia’s grandma is becoming more and more forgetful. Van Laan gently takes readers through the different stages of dementia, from Grandma forgetting names (“she liked to scramble our names for breakfast instead of eggs”) and then events, forgetting where she parked, mixing things up in the kitchen and repeating herself to eventually wandering outside in a snowstorm and being unable to care for herself. Told from Julia’s perspective, the story is tinged with the little girl’s confusion and worry, but the ultimate tone is one of love and reassurance. Julia knows there is no cure but still hugs her grandma tight every time they visit. A soft palette of warm greens and yellows and the unmistakable blue of forget-me-not flowers blankets readers in a wash of grandmotherly comfort.

Poignant but not overly sentimental—and actually quite light in some places—this quiet offering opens up a discussion of a condition that affects many. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-449-81543-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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