A sweet story that’s not without its narrative gaps.

PEEPER AND ZEEP

From the I Like To Read series

In this picture book with an intentionally easy-to-read text, a bird and an extraterrestrial find friendship while far from home.

Peeper, a little brown bird, flutters across the page in an erratic path. Zeep, a purple space creature, soars alone in the vastness of dark blue space. Both fall to Earth, Peeper breaking his wing, Zeep breaking his spaceship. They lose themselves in the woods, then meet. Needing help to get to their respective homes, they seek out A. Frog, who resides in a green geodesic dome and appears to be an engineer or a scientist, judging by visual clues such as pencils, a drafting board, rulers, and tools. Frog’s stove is a Bunsen burner, and the window flower vases are lab flasks. Unfortunately, Frog is not immediately successful, catapults and jet-propulsion packs failing to get Peeper and Zeep where they need to go; a larger dome they work on together seems to be the solution. The ending, in which Peeper’s and Zeep’s families somehow find them and join them in the dome, is emotionally satisfying but logically less so. Gudeon’s cartoonish forms are constructed with thick outlines and flat, computer-generated pigment. Occasionally background objects and scenery appear as brush strokes of opaque paint and watercolor. Although the mostly one-syllable, four- to six-word sentences string together to form a story of trial and error, it is the visual narrative that really tells this story.

A sweet story that’s not without its narrative gaps. (Picture book/early reader. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3674-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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