Entertaining and instructive for the playground set.

BALL & BALLOON

Sitting still on the ground, alone, Ball wishes he could soar like Balloon. Suddenly he’s thrown, bounced, rolled, passed, and kicked in a fantastic playground pickup game, and he sees what’s fantastic about being himself.

Children encounter other crucial lifelong lessons in this engaging picture book about two simple objects that give young people unending pleasure. Apostrophic lines give Ball and Balloon expressions children can easily interpret: embarrassment, smugness, surprise, pride, exhilaration, discouragement, love, satisfaction, and reciprocity. When Ball tries to roll and bounce on his own but can’t, Balloon taunts from above, calling, “The sky’s the limit.…Ta-ta, Ball!” Both Ball’s impotent dejection and Balloon’s glib gloating (so vividly depicted in distilled language and nuanced facial expressions against a white backdrop) arrive as arrows to readers’ hearts, which will recognize both feelings as their own. Digitally compiled mixed-media illustrations offer varied perspectives, from way above the basketball hoop to down at the asphalt, as well as lots of movement, with Ball whizzing and Balloon floating. The cleanliness and clarity of these illustrations facilitate a focus on feelings. Children glean fundamental lessons in empathy, navigating exhilaration and sadness, and the importance of helping others while riding out Ball’s and Balloon’s emotional (and literal) highs and lows.

Entertaining and instructive for the playground set. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2562-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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