A didactic pipe dream.

READ REVIEW

TOO SMALL FOR MY BIG BED

Stewart tenders a piece of puff pastry that wishes nothing more than to send its readers to slumberland.

This book, with its handsome artwork but thin-as-gruel text, may find its readers snug asleep in bed, but purely unintentionally. The bald intent here is to instruct: If you sense your mother’s nearness when you wake late in the dark of night, you will feel her loving protectiveness, close your eyes and find your way back to sleep. To be kind, if your child is a committed spiritualist or a Zen adept, this may work, but most adult readers will find themselves muttering, “As if.” The mother and cub spend the day flexing the cub’s newfound abilities—jumping in the grass, climbing the rocks—and the mother, in the refrain, reminds the cub that he is doing it “all by yourself”: the unsubtle hint that he is not sleeping by himself yet, is he? These reminders give way to the mystical. “If you keep your eyes closed, and I am quieter than the smallest cricket,” asks Mommy, “then how do you know I am near?” Eventually it works for the cub, though that grassland still looks mighty dark and deep. The illustrations, however, are an eyeful: mixed-media confections that catch the smoky-purple hills and tawny grasslands where these tigers roam (though, in reality, most tigers prefer the Asian forest).

A didactic pipe dream. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7641-6587-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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Good bedtime reading.

POLAR BEAR ISLAND

Only polar bears are allowed on Polar Bear Island, until Kirby, a friendly, creative penguin, arrives on the scene.

On the verso of the first double-page spread, large white lettering proclaims against an azure sky: “Polar Bear Island was peaceful and predictable. Parker, the mayor, planned to keep it that way.” Below, Parker—paint can in left paw—can be seen facing his sign: “Welcome to Polar Bear Island. No Others Allowed.” On the recto, Kirby floats into view on an ice floe, with hat, scarf, and overstuffed suitcase. When Kirby arrives, Parker grudgingly allows her an overnight stay. However, she soon proves her worth to the other bears; she has invented Flipper Slippers, which keep extremities warm and reverse from skates to snowshoes. Now Kirby is allowed to stay and help the bears make their own Flipper Slippers. When her family shows up with more inventions, Parker feels compelled to give them a week. (Presumably, the penguins have made the 12,430-mile-trip from the South Pole to the North Pole, characterized merely as “a long journey.”) A minor crisis permanently changes Parker’s attitudes about exclusivity. The text is accessible and good fun to read aloud. The weakness of the ostensible theme of granting welcome to newcomers lies in the fact that all the newcomers are immediately, obviously useful to the bears. The cartoonlike, scratchboard-ish graphics are lighthearted and full of anthropomorphic touches.

Good bedtime reading. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2870-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard.

THE WIND PLAYS TRICKS

When a fierce wind descends on the barnyard, the animals hear some odd noises…and they’re coming from their own mouths.

The sudden wind unsettles all the animals on the farm just when they should be getting ready for sleep. Instead, they anxiously “cheep” and “cluck” and “oink” and “quack” and “moooo.” They shift nervously, pull together, and make all sorts of noises. All except Turtle, who tucks into his shell under an old log and sleeps. In the morning, though, the animals get a surprise. Pig says, “Cluck”; the Little Chicks say, “Neigh”; Horse crows, “Cock-a-doodle-doo.” How will they get their proper sounds back? Turtle has an idea, and he enjoys the process so much that he decides to open his mouth the next time the wind plays tricks at the farm: Perhaps he’ll catch a sound all his own. Chua’s cartoon barnyard is bright, and her animals, expressive, their faces and body language slightly anthropomorphized. The edges of the figures sometimes betray their digital origins. Though the tale is humorous and will give lots of opportunity for practicing animal sounds, the audience is hard to pin down, as the young children sure to enjoy mooing and clucking may not have the patience to sit through the somewhat lengthy text.

For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8735-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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