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Rissy, a gumdrop-shaped lovebird painted in a yellow-green gradient, is seen as an anomaly for repeatedly refusing the kisses of her affectionate neighbors, family, and friends, which make her feel 'worried, weird, and wrong.' Rissy wonders if she will ever find belonging if she can't accept others' smooches, until her mother imparts a valuable truth: 'Your body and your heart are yours, and you choose how to share./ You get to pick the ways you want to show us that you care.' Howes's experience with neurodiverse people informs this sprightly rhyming narrative; a refrain ('No kissies!') and soft watercolor art by Engle reinforce the message that speaking up for one's bodily agency should always be embraced. Back matter includes a note to kids and one for caretakers.--starred, Publishers Weekly-- "Journal" (2/11/2021 12:00:00 AM)
A young bird, warm and lively, can't bear kissing.
Rissy is a solid, roundish, colorful lovebird with three siblings, one mother, and one father who are all also lovebirds. They're an affectionate bunch, as are their friends and relatives. Rissy's on board for holding wings, 'sky-high hugs, ' tumbling, and roughhousing, but she can't bear kisses (giving or receiving). She heads them off admirably--'No kissies! Rissy chirrup[s] with a most emphatic squeak'--but it's stressful for her. Miss Bluebird accuses her of confusion, Grandma Lovebird of rudeness; schoolmates 'think Rissy's being mean.' Why? 'We know lovebirds all love kisses, ' they parrot. 'Am I mean, Mom? Rissy wondered, / or confused or rude or sick? / Are you certain I'm a lovebird? / Are you sure that I'm your chick? // Kissies make my tummy icky. / I feel worried, weird, and wrong. // If I can't show love with kissies, / then I'll never quite belong.' Mom's bolstering of Rissy's boundaries and reassurance that she's a lovebird family member are cheerworthy; now Rissy can explain her preferences more fully, with greater assurance than before, secure in her family and identity. Howes' rhyming verse is both rollicking and steady, which offsets Rissy's vulnerability without undermining it. Engle's wonderfully stocky lovebirds are multicolored, with watercolor hue gradations and expressive beak shapes. This is an artistic gem for consent discussions, sensory-processing contexts, and anyone who champions children's agency and bodily autonomy.
Radiant.--starred, Kirkus Reviews
Rissy is a lovebird hatchling, with one unusual quirk: she doesn't like kisses! One by one, her family and friends learn this the hard way, as they attempt to show affection, tuck her into the nest, or soothe her boo-boos. Each time, Rissy responds with the same 'emphatic squeak': 'No kissies!' The other birds wonder if Rissy is sick or confused or just mean and rude, but when she despairs that she'll never belong, her mother assures her that she is still a true lovebird and that how she chooses to receive or show affection is entirely her choice. It's a purposeful story, but Howes' sing-song, rhyming text, coupled with Engle's charming characters and gentle watercolors, makes it an easy means of conveying big concepts--body autonomy, boundaries, consent--to the littlest readers. Back matter includes a 'note to kids, ' sharing small lessons on establishing boundaries and respecting others', as well as a 'note to caregivers, ' which defines key terms and explains the importance of beginning this kind of education early. A cute conversation-starter.--Booklist-- "Journal" (3/15/2021 12:00:00 AM)