I DREAM OF A JOURNEY

Visually arresting but melancholy.

The owner of the Solitude Hotel dreams of being the traveler in this Japanese import.

The squat, furry, animal standing behind the registration desk assisting a rabbit guest is hard to identify. When the protagonist also appears among an assortment of other characters—all are anthropomorphic creatures—it is also sometimes difficult to determine which one is the hotelier, although the first-person narration compels one to try. While the establishment is cozy and full of mutual storytelling, the innkeeper yearns for adventure too. The hotel scenes are in black and white, but as the narrator drifts off to sleep, the softly textured lithographs appear in color. In the dream, a bicycle, plane, and car transport the protagonist to a sunny beach, a picnic with former customers, and an encounter with a rainbow. The innkeeper awakens to the original palette only to study colorful postcards from guests in the evening. Close observers will recognize some of the images. Still awake, the protagonist imagines setting off on a journey, although this time it is rendered in black and white—optimists and pessimists will draw different conclusions from this decision. While some children may relate to these longings, this title feels more adult in perspective than Miyakoshi’s previous stories, which, while equally evocative and dreamlike, are grounded in matters more closely connected to childhood: parties, storms, bedtime.

Visually arresting but melancholy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0478-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

TINY T. REX AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HUG

Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back.

With such short arms, how can Tiny T. Rex give a sad friend a hug?

Fleck goes for cute in the simple, minimally detailed illustrations, drawing the diminutive theropod with a chubby turquoise body and little nubs for limbs under a massive, squared-off head. Impelled by the sight of stegosaurian buddy Pointy looking glum, little Tiny sets out to attempt the seemingly impossible, a comforting hug. Having made the rounds seeking advice—the dino’s pea-green dad recommends math; purple, New Age aunt offers cucumber juice (“That is disgusting”); red mom tells him that it’s OK not to be able to hug (“You are tiny, but your heart is big!”), and blue and yellow older sibs suggest practice—Tiny takes up the last as the most immediately useful notion. Unfortunately, the “tree” the little reptile tries to hug turns out to be a pterodactyl’s leg. “Now I am falling,” Tiny notes in the consistently self-referential narrative. “I should not have let go.” Fortunately, Tiny lands on Pointy’s head, and the proclamation that though Rexes’ hugs may be tiny, “I will do my very best because you are my very best friend” proves just the mood-lightening ticket. “Thank you, Tiny. That was the biggest hug ever.” Young audiences always find the “clueless grown-ups” trope a knee-slapper, the overall tone never turns preachy, and Tiny’s instinctive kindness definitely puts him at (gentle) odds with the dinky dino star of Bob Shea’s Dinosaur Vs. series.

Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7033-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

PUG BLASTS OFF

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

Totes adorbs.

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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