Share this book with children who have a high level of tolerance for ambiguity—and be ready to discuss.

GUSTAVE

Greater love hath no mouse….

Simard and Pratt tell in an uncompromisingly honest style the tale of a mouse whose best friend, Gustave, is eaten by a cat, apparently sacrificing himself to save the narrator and allow him to escape. Once the terrified mouse is sure Gustave is gone, he wanders alone through a bleak urban landscape, dreading going home to his mother without his dearest friend. Finally, he returns to the mousehole. Mother is making dinner. She has already guessed what happened and has a plan to make her son feel better. She pulls out a life-size stuffed mouse, identical to Gustave in every feature, which she just happens to have on hand. The mouse declares, “You will never be Gustave,” but he decides quickly that the lifelike toy will be an acceptable substitute, and in his imagination, it can come alive. Strikingly illustrated in a painterly style reminiscent of Whistler’s nightscapes, with sparse, hand-printed text, the book is clearly aiming to make an impression. Textured acrylic washes and figures heavily outlined in black give the book a gloomy, threatening air. For all the beauty of its artwork, the tone of this book is surprisingly somber for a children’s book, and readers may find it hard to discern a positive message.

Share this book with children who have a high level of tolerance for ambiguity—and be ready to discuss. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55498-451-0

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.

THE THANKFUL BOOK

Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one.

WAY PAST WORRIED

Brock may be dressed like a superhero, but he sure doesn’t feel like one, as social anxieties threaten to rain on his fun    .

Juan’s superhero-themed birthday party is about to start, but Brock is feeling trepidatious about attending without his brother as his trusty sidekick. His costume does not fit quite right, and he is already running late, and soon Brock is “way past worried.” When he arrives at the party he takes some deep breaths but is still afraid to jump in and so hides behind a tree. Hiding in the same tree is the similarly nervous Nelly, who’s new to the neighborhood. Through the simple act of sharing their anxieties, the children find themselves ready to face their fears. This true-to-life depiction of social anxiety is simply but effectively rendered. While both Nelly and Brock try taking deep breathes to calm their anxieties without success, it is the act of sharing their worries in a safe space with someone who understands that ultimately brings relief. With similar themes, Brock’s tale would make a lovely companion for Tom Percival’s Ruby Finds a Worry (2019) on social-emotional–development bookshelves. Brock is depicted with black hair and tan skin, Nelly presents White, and peers at the party appear fairly diverse.

Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8686-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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