If all kids had the confidence about who they are that Mike has, what a wonderful world this would be.

MIXED ME!

Some kids call him “Mixed-up Mike,” but the protagonist makes clear that he isn’t mixed-up at all—just mixed.

With his curly, red zigzag hair, tan skin and green eyes, Mike likes to skateboard and go fast inside and outside, wearing a colorful patchwork cape. The kids at school tell him that his parents don’t match, and other people stare at them when they’re out as a family. But Mike loves his deep-brown, bald-headed dad and his cream-and-honey, red-haired mom, and clearly they love him too. What’s more, they declare that they mixed Mike perfectly “and got you JUST RIGHT!” Mike’s confidence in his own appearance and coolness as well as the way he proudly embodies diversity, including a certain level of androgyny, make this a refreshing read. Evans’ integration of rough-textured fabrics into lively and colorful mixed-media illustrations will make readers want to reach out and touch them. Readers will also find this an easy book to set to music or rap, thanks to its rhyme and cadence. The takeaway message remains one that all children need to embrace: “I’m doing my thing, so don’t forget it. / If you don’t get it, then you don’t get it.”

If all kids had the confidence about who they are that Mike has, what a wonderful world this would be. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04719-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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