A fine treatment of a tried-and-true theme. (Picture book 4-6)


A little boy, bereft over moving, makes strides toward feeling at home in his new neighborhood.

With uniform houses and patches of lawn, the community depicted evokes Levittown. Karas’ mixed-media art employs a bleak, gray palette for the setting, befitting the boy’s forlorn feelings. His mother suggests, “Maybe you’d like to take a little walk down the block. You might even meet someone.” Though unenthusiastic, he “slowly shuffle[s] away.” When he stops and (rather inexplicably) calls out, “Neville,” another child hears him, and then another and another, and they all join in. But who is Neville? “Is he new?” one child asks. “Are you a friend of his?” adds another. “His best friend, I guess,” he responds. The children wander off, leaving the boy hopeful after making this foray into joining their community. His homecoming is alight with colors that Karas slowly incorporated into prior illustrations, and when his mother tucks him in, she whispers, “Good night, Neville…” Readers then can hope that when the neighborhood children discover that the boy himself is Neville, they will embrace him as surely as they did his search.

A fine treatment of a tried-and-true theme. (Picture book 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86765-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A sweet read-aloud about friendship, kindness, and equity.


Thanks to a gift from her aunt, Tiana now has two teddy bears, but when her best friend, Timothy, reveals that he’s never had one, Tiana gets a big idea.

Tiana, with light brown skin and Afro-textured pigtails, loves music and her favorite teddy bear, Bach. Tiana and Bach have been through a lot together, and poor Bach is missing an eye, has worn fur, and is oozing stuffing to show for it. One day, her mother surprises her with a new teddy bear, but Tiana is hesitant to replace her much-loved friend. The next day, she races to the playground to discuss the matter with Timothy, a White boy with glasses. Like Tiana, Timothy doesn’t see anything wrong with Bach, going on to tell Tiana that in his house, where money is scarce, “toys aren’t a pri-or-ity.” Tiana is sad for her friend and wants him to also have a teddy bear. She discusses the matter with her mother, who lovingly explains that every family is not the same and that some families are not able to afford the same things as others. After some thought, Tiana decides that she wants Timothy to have her new bear, and her mother agrees. Timothy loves his new bear, naming it Billie, “because he loves jazz,” and the four “all [play] together in perfect harmony.” Empathetic, playful illustrations complement this adorable story, which opens with a note from the authors about their organization, Baby2Baby. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet read-aloud about friendship, kindness, and equity. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-295717-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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