A warm, cozy counterpoint to Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman’s Bear Snores On (2002) but without the “Again! Again!”...

WIDE-AWAKE BEAR

While all bears grow heavy-eyed in the winter, some little cubs—like some little humans—are too anxious to sleep.

Elliott can’t quite catch a wink when his mother bear tells him it’s time to nap until spring. He misses the season too much—and he’s impatient for it to come. He tries again and again to lull himself to sleep (changing his position, fluffing the bark strips, plumping up his pine-needle pillow), but nothing works. He is “Still. Wide. Awake”—a pleasing refrain. When he starts seeing scary shadows, Elliott turns to his mother for comfort. She instructs him to look closer to see the signs of spring. Sure enough, Elliott sees a “brave bud” growing in the snow, and he decides that if spring is asleep, he may as well sleep too. The refrain, poetic imagery, and well-paced sentences make this a smooth read-aloud. Yet it’s a bit too text-heavy—explaining too much at times when the art could do the heavy lifting. Kim’s soft, digitally colored graphite pencil illustrations evoke the comfort of the winter cave. The endpapers, featuring slice-of-life depictions of fall and spring, are a fitting frame.

A warm, cozy counterpoint to Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman’s Bear Snores On (2002) but without the “Again! Again!” readability. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-235603-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A funny but touching story about learning to accept who you are.

LOVEBIRD LOU

A green lovebird—green with envy—wants more than he can have.

All his life, Lou, a lovable young lovebird, has known little of the world beyond his doting flock and the corner of the beautiful island they call home. Then one day, he visits the other side of the island and discovers many other wonderful birds, from pelicans to flamingos to nightingales. Lou observes that each species has a unique and amazing gift, so much so that being a lovebird seems to pale in comparison. Desiring to be extraordinary, Lou attempts to learn the various skills of the feathered race. His efforts prove to be flat failures, and the other bird breeds watch on in dismay, but his fellow lovebirds enthusiastically praise him for his efforts. “We love you, Lou!” they squawk at every turn. Still, Lou grows frustrated and decides that being a bird is not for him. After a disastrous last-ditch attempt to transcend his perceived ordinariness, Lou finds himself lonely and discouraged and realizes that being loved is the best gift of all. This entertaining picture book would be a wonderful read-aloud and discussion starter for early grade schoolers. The bright and colorful illustrations sparkle with humor, and many young readers will readily identify with Lou’s identity crisis.

A funny but touching story about learning to accept who you are. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-45494-188-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling Children's Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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