The Boy Who Loved Everyone by Jane Porter

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The Boy Who Loved Everyone by Jane Porter, illustrated by Maisie Paradise Shearring (9781536211238)

At his first day at his new preschool, Dmitri was very excited. He sat next to Liam, rested his head on Liam’s shoulder and told him, “I love you.” Liam didn’t know how to respond, so he didn’t say anything. Outside, Dmitri told a group of girls that he loved them. They blushed and ran off. Dmitri hugged a tree, told it that he loved it, and then told the same to the ants on the ground. At lunchtime, he told the lunch lady that he loved her too, though she was certain he meant he loved her cooking. All afternoon, Dmitri told different objects and people that he loved them. But the next morning, Dmitri didn’t want to go back since no one had said that they loved him too. His mother pointed out that people show love in lots of different ways, and Dmitri’s second day showed exactly that!

This picture book glows with lots of love showered on everyone by Dmitri. While it makes them feel awkward and likely will make the reader feel that way too, Dmitri means it each and every time. The satisfaction of the second day at school is profound as Dmitri is welcomed by all of the people who had perhaps turned away from him the day before. They may not be saying they love him but in all sorts of actions, they show it to him.

The illustrations are done in a vibrant mixed media. They depict a very diverse preschool filled with children of all skin tones and teachers of different faiths. The preschool is full of bright colors, activities and marvelous messes that make it feel very welcoming and familiar.

For all of us who wear our hearts right out in the air. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Candlewick Press.

Grandparents by Chema Heras

Grandparents by Chema Heras

Grandparents by Chema Heras, illustrated by Rosa Osuna (9781771645669)

When Grandfather hears an announcement of a party in the main square, he knows just who to invite. He rushes home to ask his wife, Manuela, to join him. But Manuela isn’t quite as eager as he is to head to a party. Grandfather picks Grandmother a flower and tells her how beautiful she is. Grandmother heads inside to put on eyeliner, then mascara, then skin cream, but each time Grandfather tells her that she is lovely just the way she is and to hurry up so they can go dancing! Lipstick, hair dye and a change of clothes are the next delays, but Grandfather is ready to cajole Grandmother along. Finally, the two of them go dancing together, and Grandmother realizes that Grandfather is just as beautiful as the moon too.

First published in Portuguese, this charming picture book explores the power of love and of being oneself. Heras uses a series of metaphors to describe Grandmother’s beauty. Her eyes are “as sad and beautiful as stars at night.” Her white hair is like “a midsummer cloud” and her skin is wrinkly like “nuts in a pie.” Grandmother herself uses negative metaphors to describe herself, but those are all countered by Grandfather’s love and adoration for her.

The illustrations are quirky and interesting, filled with surreal combinations of spaces and objects. As they are together in the house, the couple sometimes appear sideways or upside down as well as right-side-up nearby.

A warm and lovely look at love and self-esteem. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Greystone Kids.

Just Like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan

Just Like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan

Just Like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (9781534461833)

Told in the first person, this picture book celebrates adults in children’s lives who take on the role of mother even if they aren’t related to the child. The little girl in this book lives with Mama Rose. Their relationship is never clarified as foster parent or relative, making it a picture book that will speak to children living in a variety of circumstances. Mama Rose does everything a mother does. She combs the little girl’s hair, get her to school, teaches her skills like making a bed or dribbling a basketball. Mama Rose encourages the little girl to dream and to know that she has potential. She also has rules like finishing your vegetables before you get dessert and doing chores like cleaning your room. Mama Rose is home and there is plenty of love to go around between them both.

With a repeating refrain and writing that is simple and accessible, Duncan shows that it is not actually being a biological mother that matters but instead being a mother figure for a child whatever the relationship. In her author note, Duncan speaks to the long tradition of fictive kin that dates back to the times of slavery and the broken families that resulted from the brutality. In the story itself, the focus is on love and support for a child and what that looks like every day.

Barlow’s watercolor illustrations show a clear connection between Mama Rose and the little girl. Filled with color, they capture the many moments that make up a relationship of parent and child.

An important book that embraces different kinds of families. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Simon & Schuster.

 

Like the Moon Loves the Sky by Hena Khan

Like the Moon Loves the Sky by Hena Khan

Like the Moon Loves the Sky by Hena Khan, illustrated by Saffa Khan (9781452180199)

This lovely bedtime book has text inspired by the Quran. The book has a repeating structure with each double-page illustration accompanied by a line that starts with “Inshallah you…” The book focuses on a day in a child’s life, surrounded by a loving family. The family wakes up, goes for a walk, and visits a neighbor in need. They read books together, play with friends, and garden. There are lots of activities like swimming, riding a bike and even more playing with others before the book ends with bedtime and stories. 

These universal childhood experiences are made deeper and more meaningful with the words that accompany them, each noted with characteristics that they represent like thoughtfulness, kindness, safety, and faith. The illustrations are vibrant and impactful, showing a Muslim family go about their day. Done in reds, yellows and blues, the illustrations are full of color and celebrate parental love. 

A warm, rich and beautiful look at a Muslim family. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.

Review: How Do I Love Thee? by Jennifer Adams

how do i love thee by jennifer adams

How Do I Love Thee? by Jennifer Adams, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal (9780062394446)

Based on the famous poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, this picture book takes the iconic first lines of that poem and creates something new. “How do I love thee, let me count the ways…” The book shows three friends experiencing each of the ways that love can feel. It can be deep as the ocean, soft like sunlight. It can be quiet or loud, daylight or night time. It can happen in all of the seasons or any time of day.

The text here has a rich echo of the poem it is inspired by, “Sonnet 43.” That poem is also shared at the end of the book, so young readers can hear the original in all of its beauty. This look at love is rich and varied, showing that love can be between friends or family and doesn’t have to be romantic. The illustrations are filled with whimsy, moving from bright light to deep night. The friends in them play together merrily, connect quietly and simply enjoy time with one another.

A lovely book of love. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: I’ll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi

i'll love you till the cows come home by kathryn cristaldi

I’ll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi, illustrated by Kristyna Litten (9780062574206)

Take a jaunty trip with this picture book that looks at all sorts of animals and vehicles going on grand journeys. The book begins with cows heading to the moon in a rocket ship with the promise that “I will love you till the cows come home.” Then the verse moves on to yaks who eat grass and then take off in a fire truck. The refrain changes to match the yaks and work with the rhyme. The book progresses to sheep setting sail, wolves returning, frogs riding past, deer dancing, geese flapping down, and ants marching in. Until finally, all of the animals end up fast asleep on the final pages, exhausted from their adventures.

What could have been a saccharine rhyming tale turns out to be an active picture book filled with plenty of giggles, lots of animals and all sorts of vehicles. The rhymes are jaunty and fun without being sing-songy. The message of love is present in each of the stories but doesn’t overwhelm the dynamic fun happening on the page.

The illustrations are friendly with animals that smile and often look directly out at the reader. They are also filled with action and activity, with leaping frogs, flying geese, zooming rockets, racing trucks and much more.

A fast-moving and funny picture book. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

 

3 New Picture Books Full of Compassion

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jen Hill (9781626723214)

When Tanisha spilled grape juice on her dress, the others in class laughed at her until she ran out of the room. But one child doesn’t laugh and tries to make her feel better by saying that they love the color purple too. That child narrates the book and wonders what the kind thing or better thing to do would have been. Maybe kindness is giving? Or could it be helping? Is it paying attention? Using people’s names? It can be hard to be kind, to stand up to others, to be the lone voice. And sometimes, kindness is sitting near someone quietly and then showing without words that you understand. Miller explore kindness in a way that children will understand and offers them questions rather than simple solutions so they can explore the idea themselves. The art in the picture book is nicely done, incorporating children of different races in the classroom. The ambiguous gender of the main character is also welcome. This is a book that invites conversation about kindness and compassion. Appropriate for ages 5-7. (Reviewed from copy provided by Roaring Brook Press.)

Chinese Emperor_s New Clothes by Ying Chang Compestine

Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by David Roberts (9781419725425)

This picture book is a twist on the traditional tale, this time with the emperor being part of the trick rather than solely the tailors. When young emperor Ming Da discovers that his advisors are stealing from him, he comes up with a clever way to expose their misdeeds. Enlisting the help of his tailors, Ming Da dresses in burlap sacks, telling his advisors that they only look like sacks to those who are dishonest, otherwise they look like the finest silks. The three advisors soon have their own sacks to wear in the entourage, since they can’t admit their dishonesty. With a focus on helping the poor and being honest, this picture book is an engaging twist on the original. The illustrations pay homage to the Chinese setting by incorporating more formal framing at times. Look for small creatures watching the action along with the reader and the looks of delight as the tailors trap the advisors in their lies. A great book to share aloud, with a young hero who puts others before himself. (Reviewed from library copy.)

The Rabbit and the Shadow by Melanie Rutten

 The Rabbit and the Shadow by Melanie Rutten (9780802854858)

This French import is a strange and haunting picture book. When Stag finds Rabbit left on his doorstep, he takes Rabbit in and raises him. They laugh together and feel each other’s pain. They race home and Stag always lets Rabbit win. Rabbit worries that Stag won’t always be there and Stag knows that Rabbit with grow up and eventually leave. Then one day, that happens. Rabbit is alone in the woods and meets two others, a Cat who loves soccer and a Warrior who is very angry. The three of them adventure together and form a family of sorts, eventually they all become more honest about who they are. Still, there is a shadow lingering nearby, one that has been in Rabbit’s story since the beginning. Can that Shadow help bring Stag and Rabbit together again?

Told with such heart and beauty, this picture book is a very different read. It is about family and adoption, but also reaches beyond that to the struggle of growing up and being independent, yet the homesickness and longing for people you love. It’s a deep picture book, that reaches into dark corners and reveals that shadows can actually protect and guard. It’s a book that shows that the universe can revolve around love and still allow exploration, new friends and wonder. The illustrations are playful at times, dark with worry at others, and exploding with joy too. Emotions are not only depicted by the characters but embraced by the entire color palette too.

One of those wonderful picture book imports that will blow your mind. Appropriate for ages 5-7. (Reviewed from copy provided by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.)

2 New Books to Love

I Am Loved by Nikki Giovanni

I Am Loved by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Ashley Bryan (9781534404922)

This collection of poetry by Giovanni shows the many ways that love shines in our lives. Selected by Ashley Bryan, the poems move from family love to love between friends to more playful poems about dancing or cats. The poems form a cohesive collection, just long enough to work well for young children and not too much to overwhelm. The illustrations by Bryan glow almost like lit stained glass windows with their rich colors and segmented pieces. The entire book has a warmth to it that embraces and enchants. Appropriate for ages 6-9. (Reviewed from copy provided by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.)

Love by Matt de la Pena

Love by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Loren Long (9781524740917)

A marvelous pairing of the skill of an author with an illustrator working in a new medium, this picture book is all about love as the title states. De la Pena speaks about love in a way that shows how it surrounds us each and every day, in music on the radio, train whistles, the color of the sky. Small moments are captured in his poem, celebrating the little things that make life beautiful and the people who make them special. Long then takes those words and brings them fully alive with his illustrations done with monotype printmaking. The colors and figures are amazing and still it is the play of light in each image that draws the eye making these illustrations exceptional. Readers are guaranteed to fall for Love. Appropriate for ages 3-6. (Reviewed from ARC provided by Penguin Young Readers Group.)

3 Fun-Filled Picture Books

These three picture books are wild romps of fun:

I Love You Like a Pig by Mac Barnett

I Love You Like a Pig by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli (9780062354839)

This picture book celebrates all the different forms that love can take, beginning with being loved like a pig and moving to other unique ones as well. At first they may seem silly or unlikely, but the book shows what each one means through the illustrations. The text stays very simple, offering new ways of loving: I love you like a window, I’m smiling like a tuna, and You’re sweet like a banker. Then the illustrations shows how each analogy works and brings it all to life. Barnett comes up with far-fetched analogies that then are transformed into meaning. The selections are clever and will appeal specifically to children and their experiences. Pizzoli’s bright illustrations invite readers to explore the words and find the meaning too. An ingenious book about love and delight. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from library copy.)

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABCs (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABCs (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell (9780316502467)

When the little red cat heads outside, he discovers a world of surprises and dangers that follow the ABCs. Readers will have to puzzle out what matches each letter along the way (though there is a key in the back of the book to help if you get stuck.) With a merry chase throughout the book, it has the feel of a Gingerbread Boy gallop across the pages. The book is wordless, offering only the letters along the way, providing a visual treat as the cat is joined by an alligator, a bear, a chicken, a dragon and an egg on his adventure through the alphabet. Filled with moments of humor, like the stop at the rest room for R and the lovely use of N and O, this picture book is a delight of an alphabet book that is great fun to share. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Nibbles The Dinosaur Guide by Emma Yarlett.jpg

Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide by Emma Yarlett (978-1-61067-643-4)

This is the second Nibbles book where the little yellow monster invades a book by munching his way right into the pages. Here a serious informational book about dinosaurs is what he enters and causes all sorts of mischief. The book names beloved dinosaurs and explains facts about them before being interrupted by the chaos created by Nibbles as he chews through the pages. Nibbles flees from Triceratops charging him. He has an eating contest with a family of Diplodocus. He is surrounded by Velociraptors and then runs right into a Tyrannosaurus Rex before escaping the book.

Yarlett has a real feel for what children love in picture books. She includes poop and fart jokes along the way, and offers lift the flap and die cut pages. Along the way, various side characters offer puns and jokes that will have readers giggling. Still, there is real information on the various dinosaurs offered as well, creating a book that combines silliness and seriousness into just the right mix.

Yarlett’s illustrations work to combine the serious and silliness. The pages on the dinosaurs are done in serious muted colors, sepia tones. But when Nibbles is around, those colors burst into fuller colors with oranges, greens and yellows. The die cuts are cleverly used to move through the book, some of them appearing through multiple pages for even more effect.

Another delicious Nibbles book that combines interactive elements and dinosaurs for what is sure to be a popular pick. Appropriate for ages 4-7. (Reviewed from copy provided by Kane Miller.)