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SOUR APPLE

An uplifting tale of triumph.

A lonely apple is left behind at harvest time.

All the apples have wide-open eyes, but our protagonist—green with a brown spot, in contrast to the bright red ones—has a questioning personality. In simple, rhymed text, the unpicked apple wants to know why it wasn’t selected: “Am I not shiny enough to sell at the market? Or not tiny enough to be used as a target?” (The accompanying illustration for that last line depicts William Tell.) Other apple allusions appear: Newton’s encounter with a falling apple; the evil stepmother, the poisoned apple, an unconscious Snow White, and the seven dwarfs. Our apple plaintively wonders: “Am I too ordinary to make or break your day?” Well-known apple adages are referenced as the apple adds, “Or not sweet enough to be the apple of your eye? Or not extraordinary enough to keep the doctor away?” While young children may need adult readers to explain some of these examples, they’ll understand the little apple’s unhappiness. They’ll be upset when insects try to devour the apple and seemingly bury it but will cheer when the passage of time brings about an amazing transformation: The apple eventually becomes a tree. Bold colors and shapes reminiscent of Eric Carle’s artwork will entice children; they’ll be gratified to see this seemingly hopeless piece of fruit ultimately succeed.

An uplifting tale of triumph. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781250835086

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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THE HUGASAURUS

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily.

A group of young “dinosauruses” go out into the world on their own.

A fuchsia little Hugasaurus and her Pappysaur (both of whom resemble Triceratops) have never been apart before, but Hugasaurus happily heads off with lunchbox in hand and “wonder in her heart” to make new friends. The story has a first-day-of-school feeling, but Hugasaurus doesn’t end up in a formal school environment; rather, she finds herself on a playground with other little prehistoric creatures, though no teacher or adult seems to be around. At first, the new friends laugh and play. But Hugasaurus’ pals begin to squabble, and play comes to a halt. As she wonders what to do, a fuzzy platypus playmate asks some wise questions (“What…would your Pappy say to do? / What makes YOU feel better?”), and Hugasaurus decides to give everyone a hug—though she remembers to ask permission first. Slowly, good humor is restored and play begins anew with promises to be slow to anger and, in general, to help create a kinder world. Short rhyming verses occasionally use near rhyme but also include fun pairs like ripples and double-triples. Featuring cozy illustrations of brightly colored creatures, the tale sends a strong message about appropriate and inappropriate ways to resolve conflict, the final pages restating the lesson plainly in a refrain that could become a classroom motto. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-82869-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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ROBOT, GO BOT!

A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the...

In this deceptively spare, very beginning reader, a girl assembles a robot and then treats it like a slave until it goes on strike.

Having put the robot together from a jumble of loose parts, the budding engineer issues an increasingly peremptory series of rhymed orders— “Throw, Bot. / Row, Bot”—that turn from playful activities like chasing bubbles in the yard to tasks like hoeing the garden, mowing the lawn and towing her around in a wagon. Jung crafts a robot with riveted edges, big googly eyes and a smile that turns down in stages to a scowl as the work is piled on. At last, the exhausted robot plops itself down, then in response to its tormentor’s angry “Don’t say no, Bot!” stomps off in a huff. In one to four spacious, sequential panels per spread, Jung develops both the plotline and the emotional conflict using smoothly modeled cartoon figures against monochromatic or minimally detailed backgrounds. The child’s commands, confined in small dialogue balloons, are rhymed until her repentant “Come on home, Bot” breaks the pattern but leads to a more equitable division of labor at the end.

A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the rest. (Easy reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87083-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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