This lighthearted take on youthful determination and the value of continued effort successfully avoids undue complexity,...


From the I Like To Read series

Veteran Torrey joins the stable of author-illustrators contributing to the I Like to Read picture-book series, crafting a family tale of persistence and confidence that serves as a timely lesson in a text explicitly aimed at the youngest budding readers.

This series dares to make entertaining reads from short texts and familiar vocabulary. Repetitions of “Moe can...” are offset by contrasting images of a “little” monkey brother attempting to accomplish tasks better suited to his older siblings. Torrey takes adult caregivers on a reminiscent journey through the familiar chores and lores of home life as a kid even as he transports child readers from the bathroom sink to the outdoor basketball court. The older, playful siblings chide Moe’s overconfidence (“I am the best,” he says over and over) yet comfort him after countless missed baskets, helping him to realize he is the best at something: “trying.” The artwork lends as much simplicity as the language, stepping away from elaborate detail for a simple, streamlined palette digitally filled from the author’s illustration board. What readers are left with is a short anecdote of familial competition that delivers a quick but salient message.

This lighthearted take on youthful determination and the value of continued effort successfully avoids undue complexity, allowing both message and story to reach their emergent-reader audience. (Early reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2837-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.


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.


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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