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HELLO, TREE

Both an appreciation of nature and an ultimately hopeful reminder about our symbiotic relationship with it.

A steadfast pine tree grows alongside a young girl.

The tree narrates, describing how the pair play together and provide each other comfort and companionship. Life is serene in the forest clearing where both the girl’s family’s house and the tree are situated, until a lightning storm brings fire and chaos. Animals flee, and the girl and her family evacuate, leaving the tree alone. Miraculously, the tree survives, yet destruction is all around. Charred trunks, barren land, and the ruins of the girl’s home have replaced the verdant lushness of the thriving forest. Nature finds a way though, and through the combined efforts of the human and animal communities (the latter never anthropomorphized), the forest regrows, and the cycle of stewardship is passed along to the next generation. Though told from the tree’s perspective, this quietly powerful tale of ecological awareness will prompt reflection about readers’ own roles in coexisting with and protecting nature. The simple, evocative text captures the placid, ever faithful voice of the tree and pairs well with the detailed illustrations. The deep greens of the mature forest project a strong sense of reassurance and vitality that effectively contrasts with the bleak browns, blacks, and grays of the post-fire scenes. The girl and her family have black hair and olive skin. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Both an appreciation of nature and an ultimately hopeful reminder about our symbiotic relationship with it. (additional facts, author's notes) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-42526-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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GRUMPY MONKEY

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his...

It’s a wonderful day in the jungle, so why’s Jim Panzee so grumpy?

When Jim woke up, nothing was right: "The sun was too bright, the sky was too blue, and bananas were too sweet." Norman the gorilla asks Jim why he’s so grumpy, and Jim insists he’s not. They meet Marabou, to whom Norman confides that Jim’s grumpy. When Jim denies it again, Marabou points out that Jim’s shoulders are hunched; Jim stands up. When they meet Lemur, Lemur points out Jim’s bunchy eyebrows; Jim unbunches them. When he trips over Snake, Snake points out Jim’s frown…so Jim puts on a grimacelike smile. Everyone has suggestions to brighten his mood: dancing, singing, swinging, swimming…but Jim doesn’t feel like any of that. He gets so fed up, he yells at his animal friends and stomps off…then he feels sad about yelling. He and Norman (who regrets dancing with that porcupine) finally just have a sit and decide it’s a wonderful day to be grumpy—which, of course, makes them both feel a little better. Suzanne Lang’s encouragement to sit with your emotions (thus allowing them to pass) is nearly Buddhist in its take, and it will be great bibliotherapy for the crabby, cranky, and cross. Oscar-nominated animator Max Lang’s cartoony illustrations lighten the mood without making light of Jim’s mood; Jim has comically long arms, and his facial expressions are quite funny.

Though Jim may have been grumpy because a chimp’s an ape and not a monkey, readers will enjoy and maybe learn from his journey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-553-53786-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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