cover image Right Now

Right Now

Jessica Olien. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-256828-1

Olien (Hamsters Don’t Fight Fires!), who employs comedy to great effect in her stories of friendship and individuality, turns decidedly more contemplative. She asks readers to take a moment from their busy lives and distractions (there is nary a screen in sight in her artwork) and just be present: “You are right now. What are you?” Her affirmations center on self-esteem, self-love, and resilience, and they are largely accompanied by outdoor scenes. “You are a cloud and a ray of light,” she writes, as a girl relaxes on a grassy hill snuggling with her dog, a catcher’s mitt and ball by her side. Life isn’t always fun or fair—misbehavior happens, and in Olien’s best metaphor she shows how adults can make a child feel like a puddle they would rather avoid. The genuineness of Olien’s text and cartooning is irrefutable, and her understated digital illustrations help ensure that readers receive the messages that they contain multitudes and are capable of great things. But the simplicity of text and art also leave it feeling somewhat superficial. Ages 4–8. Agent: Brianne Johnson, Writers House. (Apr.)