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The Legend of the Easter Robin: An Easter Story of Compassion and Faith

Dandi Daley Mackall, illus. by Richard Cowdrey. Zonderkidz, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-310-74964-6

New artwork from Cowdrey accompanies this faith-centric Easter story, first published in 2010. A golden-haired girl named Tressa is concerned about the robin’s nest on her grandmother’s windowsill: “A million things could go wrong when a robin tried to nest this early.” As Tressa and her grandmother dye Easter eggs, her grandmother tells her the Pennsylvania Dutch legend behind the robin’s red breast, dyed by a drop of Jesus’ blood after the robin plucked a thorn from his crown. Dramatic sepia-colored scenes emphasize the weight of Jesus’ cross and the violence of his procession through Jerusalem, creating a startling and powerful contrast against the cozy, present-day domestic scenes. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

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It’s Easter, Chloe Zoe!

Jane Smith. Albert Whitman, $12.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8075-2460-2

In this follow-up to It’s Valentine’s Day, Chloe Zoe!, the eponymous yellow elephant discusses her Easter preparations and looks forward to the town’s Easter egg hunt, hoping to find the golden egg that the Easter Bunny hides each year. At the park, Zoe joins in the hunt with friends George, a giraffe, and Mary Margaret, a crocodile, but when Mary Margaret finds the golden egg, Chloe Zoe has to learn to be happy for her friend. Smith’s flattened collage-style illustrations give the story a cheery sticker book aesthetic, while Chloe Zoe’s direct narration is attuned to beginning readers. Though Chloe Zoe’s emotional turnaround comes a bit easily, Smith offers a sensitive message about rolling with the punches. Ages 4–8. Agent: Nicole Tugeau, Tugeau2. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Itsy Bitsy Bunny

Jeffrey Burton, illus. by Sanja Rescek. S&S/Little Simon, $5.99 (16p) ISBN 978-1-4814-5621-0

The team behind The Itsy Bitsy Snowman returns with another board book riff on “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Here, a white rabbit dressed in a pink bow-tie and blue shirt hops along, carrying baskets filled with Easter goodies, when “down fell the baskets/ past his tiny tail.” Burton hews to the rhythms of the original song (“Out came his friends/ to help him on his way”), and the rabbit makes his deliveries with help from a fox, ladybug, and other animals, all rendered in ultra-cozy detail by Rescek. Sugary Easter fun. Ages 2–4. Illustrator’s agency: Bright Agency. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Five Little Bunnies

Tish Rabe, illus. by Dan Yaccarino. HarperFestival, $6.99 (16p) ISBN 978-0-06-225339-2

Five candy-colored bunnies hide Easter eggs in a bright green meadow for children to find in this cheerful board book. Rabe’s clipped rhymes follow the bunnies’ discussions: “The third bunny said, ‘The kids will find/ striped ones, spotted ones—every kind.’ ” As the bunnies watch, hidden in a bush, children arrive to locate the eggs. Yaccarino’s pastel palette and clean, curving forms create an inviting springtime atmosphere, though the decision to give the humans and bunnies black eyes with white irises makes them look slightly possessed—and not just by the Easter spirit. Up to age 4. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Thunder Boy Jr.

Sherman Alexie, illus. by Yuyi Morales. Little, Brown, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-01372-7

Echoes of Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian resonate in this vibrant first-person tale, illustrated in a stormy palette by Morales (Niño Wrestles the World). “I am the only Thunder Boy who has ever lived,” says the young narrator. “Or so you would think. But I am named after my dad. He is Thunder Boy Smith Sr., and I am...” Here, his mother pops in from the right lower margin to complete the sentence: “Thunder Boy Smith Jr.” The boy confides that his father’s nickname, Big Thunder, sounds impressive, while his own nickname, Little Thunder, “makes me sound like a burp or a fart.” After confessing “I hate my name!” with a chorus of screaming snakes, wolves, and bears driving the point home, Thunder Boy proposes several profound or funny alternatives, including “Star Boy,” “Old Toys Are Awesome,” and “Drums, Drums, and More Drums” because he “love[s] powwow dancing.” In the end, his father understands his ambivalence and bestows a new name, although some readers may wish the boy, having spent several pages trying on new identities, had come up with it himself. Regardless, Alexie’s first picture book showcases his ear for dialogue and sideways sense of humor, and Morales uses voice balloons and other comics elements to complement the characters’ dynamic poses. Thunder Boy’s energy is irresistible, as is this expansive portrait of a Native American family. Ages 3–6. Author’s agent: Nancy Stauffer, Nancy Stauffer Associates. Illustrator’s agent: Charlotte Sheedy, Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (May)

Reviewed on 02/05/2016 | Details & Permalink

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