A valiantly funny story within a story to share.

THE TALE OF THE VALIANT NINJA FROG

Imaginative siblings help their dad make up a bedtime story.

Dad, Jamie, and Abby (who all appear to be people of color, with brown skin and black curly hair) go camping, and the children ask for a story while illustrations show them toasting marshmallows around a fire. Dad is game and asks them for a cast of characters, which comes to include the Prince, the Princess, the Witch, the Frog (Abby’s suggestion, inspired by her plush toy frog), and “a MONSTER.” Once he gets rolling, Dad’s storytelling technique largely consists of leaving gaps for Jamie and Abby to fill in or adjusting his telling to accommodate the children’s interjections and ideas. The humorous story they build together is enhanced by illustrations that capitalize on comical facial expressions, zoomed-in perspectives, and slapstick scenarios involving an ogre. Abby is determined to make the Frog a hero in the tale despite Jamie’s commentary to the contrary, which adds some realistic, mild sibling rivalry to the frame story that surrounds the fantastic tale the family builds together. A happily-ever-after ending for the tale is echoed by a peaceful goodnight by the campfire with an anticipatory look at what story could come next.

A valiantly funny story within a story to share. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68464-179-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A handsome edition of an old favorite.

WE'RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT

The familiar cumulative game is played by four children, along with their father and their dog, at the typically British beach pictured on the lovely, expansive first endpaper. 

The children's real activities are shown in b&w drawings; the imaginative doings appear in full color. Although some of the color pages show perfectly possible events, most are clearly fantasy, suggesting just how close the two may be in children's minds. The family ends up in safe retreat in one big cozy bed; the bear is seen--on the second essential, beautiful endpaper--headed into a gloomy sea. Oxenbury's splendid watercolors and drawings perfectly evoke both landscape and the members of the questing family. 

A handsome edition of an old favorite. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1989

ISBN: 978-0-689-50476-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1989

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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