A tale of rejection and acceptance with echoes of "The Ugly Duckling." (Picture book. 4-7)

READ REVIEW

LITTLE SWEET POTATO

Accidently uprooted from his garden patch, a sweet potato is repeatedly excluded from other gardens before landing in just the right place.

Little Sweet Potato has lived peacefully in his garden patch until vibrations from a tractor shake him loose from his vine and toss him onto a road. Wondering how to get back home, he bravely rolls to another garden, occupied by resident carrots who wiggle “their long orange bodies,” call him “lumpy, dumpy, and…bumpy” and reject him. Little Sweet Potato resolutely continues to another patch, where handsome eggplants with satiny skin refuse him because of his “dumpy, bumpy, and kinda lumpy” appearance. At the next garden, flowers with “velvety blue and yellow faces” shun Little Sweet Potato because he’s a “lumpy, bumpy, dumpy vegetable.” Following similar receptions from the grapes and squash, Little Sweet Potato is about to give up when he’s welcomed into a garden teeming with all kinds of plants who praise his lumpy, dumpy, bumpy figure. Rendered in strong black outlines and bright colors, the comical illustrations track Little Sweet Potato’s solitary roll across sequential double-page spreads. Cartoonlike, anthropomorphic veggies, fruits and flowers add humor with their hilarious expressions, ranging from haughty and scornful to enthusiastic and approving.  

A tale of rejection and acceptance with echoes of "The Ugly Duckling." (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-180439-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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Aims high but falls flat.

WILD SYMPHONY

Through 20 short poems, Maestro Mouse invites readers to meet a series of animals who have lessons to impart and a symphony to perform.

Brown, author of The DaVinci Code (2003) and other wildly popular titles for adults, here offers young listeners a poetry collection accompanied by music: a “symphony” performed, for readers equipped with an audio device and an internet connection, by the Zagreb Festival Orchestra. From the introduction of the conductor and the opening “Woodbird Welcome” to the closing “Cricket Lullaby,” the writer/composer uses poems made of three to eight rhyming couplets, each line with four strong beats, to introduce the animals who will be revealed in the final double gatefold as the players in an all-animal orchestra. Each poem also contains a lesson, reinforced by a short message (often on a banner or signpost). Thus, “When life trips them up a bit, / Cats just make the best of it” concludes the poem “Clumsy Kittens,” which is encapsulated by “Falling down is part of life. The best thing to do is get back on your feet!” The individual songs and poems may appeal to the intended audience, but collectively they don’t have enough variety to be read aloud straight through. Nor does the gathering of the orchestra provide a narrative arc. Batori’s cartoon illustrations are whimsically engaging, however. They include puzzles: hard-to-find letters that are said to form anagrams of instrument names and a bee who turns up somewhere in every scene.

Aims high but falls flat. (Complete composition not available for review.) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12384-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced.

BIRD HUGS

Watch out, Hug Machine (Scott Campbell, 2014), there’s another long-limbed lover of squeezes in the mix.

Bernard, a tiny, lavender bird, dejectedly sits atop a high branch. His wings droop all the way to the ground. Heaving a sigh, his disappointment is palpable. With insufferably long wings, he has never been able to fly. All of his friends easily took to the skies, leaving him behind. There is nothing left to do but sit in his tree and feel sorry for himself. Adamson amusingly shows readers the passage of time with a sequence of vignettes of Bernard sitting in the rain, the dark, and amid a cloud of paper wasps—never moving from his branch. Then one day he hears a sob and finds a tearful orangutan. Without even thinking, Bernard wraps his long wings around the great ape. The orangutan is comforted! Bernard has finally found the best use of his wings. In gentle watercolor and pencil sketches, Adamson slips in many moments of humor. Animals come from all over to tell Bernard their troubles (a lion muses that it is “lonely at the top of the food chain” while a bat worries about missing out on fun during the day). Three vertical spreads that necessitate a 90-degree rotation add to the fun.

Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9271-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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