A self-image story about as three-dimensional as its title character.

RANDY, THE BADLY DRAWN HORSE

A vaguely horse-shaped drawing goes on a vague, drawn-out journey.

Randy is a blobby, beige quadruped with wide, staring eyes and a cheerful crayon grin. Centered on a blank white page, he proclaims immediately upon his creation that he is beautiful and loved by all and that his given name must be “reserved only for the most special of creatures.” A disembodied speech-bubble conversation between the young artist and their mother extolls Randy’s skills and preferred activities, and Randy replies with varying degrees of narcissism and sarcasm, unheard by the child in the book but potentially enjoyed by a child reading it. A lunch break results in the white void Randy occupies being interrupted with photographed drops of what appear to be peanut butter and strawberry jam, leading into an “adventure” through construction-paper obstacles, popsicle-stick forests, and a run-in with the book’s gutter. The journey ends anticlimactically at a pool of water, wherein Randy discovers his reflection, which reveals him to be without long, elegant legs, a gorgeous mane, or glossy coat. After the brief existential crisis this triggers, the child’s proclamation that “I love Randy, my beautiful horse,” soothes Randy into acceptance of his appearance. Endpapers feature an “in-depth and comprehensive guide” for how to draw a horse, featuring a Victorian illustration as the final step (scribbled out on the rear endpapers).

A self-image story about as three-dimensional as its title character. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-18590-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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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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