An exuberant yet earnest assemblage of fast-paced verse and fun-filled visuals about friendship.

WHEN I'M WITH YOU

The message here is clear: Life is better when shared with special people.

Speaking directly to the reader in rhyming verses, the first-person narrator extols the enduring joys of friendship. Whether the friendship started “when we both were small” or “once we had a chance to grow,” the narrator admits “I'm happier with you.” Often, the narrator tickles the reader with amusing sweet nothings: “If one plus one makes two, / I'm the one who goes with you,” and “You like pink, and I like blue. / I'll make lavender with you.” Whether kindred spirits are playing together, enjoying quiet time, working side by side, or exploring the world with each other, the people who ‘get us’ make our lives that much happier. Even when friends grow up, change, and no longer live close by, the narrator promises to “find a way to keep you in my head and in my heart.” Clever use of related object analogies—“You're the apple on my tree. / You're the honey to my bee” or “You're the hat that fits my head. / You're the hilltop for my sled”—creates a jaunty rhythm ideal for reading aloud. Busy, upbeat, mixed-media illustrations rendered in a cheerful pastel palette feature racially and gender diverse friends (including animal companions) engaged in both familiar activities and fantastical adventures, many of them taking place in nature.

An exuberant yet earnest assemblage of fast-paced verse and fun-filled visuals about friendship. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-42915-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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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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