It’s funny, but as a book for beginning readers—which it’s billed as—it misses the mark.

PIGSTICKS AND HAROLD AND THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY

From the Pigsticks and Harold series , Vol. 1

When Pigsticks, a pig with wanderlust, teams up with Harold the hamster, anything can happen.

Pigsticks wants to be just like his ancestor, Col. Pigslet, who traveled to the Ends of the Earth. Unlike the colonel, Pigsticks intends to make it back alive. But he needs an assistant and interviews just about everyone in Tuptown; alas, no one is worthy. And then he meets Harold, who is convinced to join the trip with the promise of three cakes as payment. Silliness ensues as the two make the seemingly never-ending trek through jungles and up mountains and into avalanches to the Ends of the Earth. Humorous cartoon illustrations appear on most pages and extend the text, adding to the chuckles. One especially funny picture shows Harold being squeezed by a boa constrictor while the text remarks, “he wasn’t having quite so much fun.” The story needs the humor. Many very challenging words (“Battenburg,” “persuasive,” “intrepid,” “ravine,” “evasive maneuvers” “ascent,” “unconvinced”) make this a stiff read, even for confident emergent readers. Most pages contain just a few sentences, but a few are so filled with words that many children will be left frustrated. 

It’s funny, but as a book for beginning readers—which it’s billed as—it misses the mark. (Early reader. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6615-6

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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