Easy on the eyes and ears; excellent for bedtime.

IF I HAD A LITTLE DREAM

Rhyming stanzas explore the notion of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, each one beginning with the words, “If I had a little….”

The rhymes are sweet and childlike, almost begging to be sung (although scansion is sometimes unruly: “If I had a little boat, / I would name it Treasure. / Treasure would make me sparkle inside, / more than I could measure”). The artwork, which uses a limited, autumnal palette, has a retro feel. It has the appearance of thin inked lines surrounded by stencils and block prints. Whimsical animals and plants decorate and sometimes frame the cast of white-skinned children and a motherly woman at the end. A child who wears an orange dress and blonde pigtails is in every illustration—apparently the voice of the poems. Within the art’s parameters, each page turn produces a fresh look in terms of layout, negative space, and appealing, eye-catching details. The overarching sentiments are love and gentleness, and the verse and artwork complement each other as they lull a child into sleepiness. A verse that imagines the narrator’s little brother is particularly endearing and is accompanied by a radiant illustration of siblings flying a kite together. There is humor as well: “If I had a little cat, / I would name him Curious. / Curious would make me laugh, / and never make me furious.”

Easy on the eyes and ears; excellent for bedtime. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3924-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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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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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