In these 10 brief snippets designed for reading aloud to the very young, Rockwell (The Robber Baby) sets out to capture small children's everyday experiences and feelings. But in her quest to portray the ordinary, she turns out tales that are, unfortunately, just that. Some of the entries cozily impart a reassuring message: left with a sitter, a boy forgets to give his mother a kiss, but she compensates with a large kiss and hug upon her return. A couple of vignettes have unrealistic, overstated endings: after looking all over the house, a girl finds her lost stuffed bunny in the toy chest and "from that day on her bunny was never lost again." Similarly, a boy who never shares learns, in one split second, never to say "Mine!" again. Each entry occupies only two pages, and works best if read singly rather than serially-the sweetness of the writing turns to blandness when the stories are taken in one gulp. The use of "little boy" and "little girl" in place of character names also makes the stories run together if absorbed in a single sitting. A welcoming design playfully positions Stevenson's (the Henry and Mudge books) characteristically cheerful spot art throughout the text. Featuring a cast of grinning kids in exaggerated but familiar scenarios, these acrylic and ink pictures add some needed whimsy. Ages 2-up. (Mar.)
- Donna Freedman
This collection of toddler tales pursues an interesting concept: the stories are all about everyday occurrences, such as a lost toy, a busy dad, a little girl not wanting to take a bath, or a boy who gets up very early and hears a bird singing. None of the stories have a point, per se -- they're just re-creations of what might happen to a kid during a typical day. Kids may find this fascinating, particularly if they have lost toys or frequently object to taking a bath. Parents, however, may find it a bit of a bore. And while the pictures are warm and charming, they're small and greatly overwhelmed by the text. Since children tend to focus on illustrations, all that white space may frustrate them.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1A collection of short stories for toddlers, inspired, according to the author, by her grandson, who enjoyed any mundane story she told him about his day as long as it began with "Once Upon a Time." Rockwell has certainly captured the mundane here. Each story is barely two pages long, no more than 200 words in length, and completely trite. The characters are all bland, and have no personality. The entries are full of loving families and warm-and-fuzzy thoughts, but they lack substance. Stevenson's illustrations manage to give some life and personality to the nameless characters, but there is little room for them on the pages. Rockwell is an author well versed in her craft, but she has missed the mark with this one. Librarians looking for simple stories to read to young children or for beginning readers will be better served by more interesting picture books by Anne Rockwell and others.Dina Sherman, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Each of these once-upon-a-time tales takes one of two tacks: mild moralizing or wish fulfillment. The ones that moralize feel smug and pat: A greedy little boy learns to share when another boy barks back; a toy is found, after much searching, in the toy chest where it should be; a bath-wary girl jumps in when a toy whale smiles at her. The wish-fulfilling tales have a measure of endearment: An early riser persuades his father to listen to birdsong with him; a father who thinks he doesn't have time to play finds some; a boy who forgot to give his mother a kiss good- bye in the morning delivers one that night upon her return. Each story is amiably concluded in two clipped pages, with Stevenson's illustrations to capture toddler imaginations. Although even two-year-olds will understand that events in the world are not always resolved so smoothly, the mood is upbeat. Simplistic and benign.