LLAMA LLAMA LOVES TO READ

From the Llama Llama series

Fans of the series will always clamor for more, but this is not likely to be one that they will ask for again and again.

Llama Llama is growing up and experiencing the frustrations and excitement of learning to read.

Llama Llama knows the alphabet, but the next step is to put those letters together to make words. And putting those words together makes stories! Progress is slow going at first, beginning with familiar words such as Llama Llama’s name and “love.” But the pace picks up, and soon Llama Llama is a proud reader (all seemingly in one day). Some rhymes are a bit off, and the feel is more instructional than warm: “Words tell truth. / Words tell new things. / Words make songs / that we can sing! // Words are the very best of presents. / Words together make a sentence!” What shines is the tiny llama’s perseverance and sense of personal achievement. “Who can’t wait to read to Mama? / You’re a READER, llama llama (sic)!” Duncan, Dewdney’s partner and director of the Anna E. Dewdney Literary Trust, collaborated with the late, beloved author on the text of this newest in the series. Morrow closely follows Dewdney’s art style with bright, bold colors and expressive animal friends. Perhaps inevitably, the whole package doesn’t quite feel like a true Llama Llama book, but it is an adequate example of the learning-to-read genre.

Fans of the series will always clamor for more, but this is not likely to be one that they will ask for again and again. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-670-01397-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE SLEIGH!

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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