This sweet story of first-time pet ownership is sure to appeal to young animal lovers of all kinds and especially to feline...

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LOLA GETS A CAT

From the Lola & Leo series

McQuinn and Beardshaw’s (Leo Can Swim, 2016, etc.) adorable, black preschool heroine, Lola, is back for another turn.

Lola loves cats, as is evident by her bedroom full of plush cat dolls and feline artwork, but what Lola desires most of all is a real-life cat to call her own. Mommy is hesitant, warning that “looking after a cat is a lot of work,” but when Lola proves she is up to the task, Mommy relents and accompanies Lola to the animal shelter to select a kitten to rescue. “Before Lola can decide, one little cat chooses her!” Many readers will surely appreciate the plotline of shelter-animal pet adoption. Once their home is prepared, Lola and Mommy bring the kitten home, where Lola dubs her Makeda after “an African queen.” Throughout, Beardshaw’s signature bright acrylic illustrations with soft edges pop with youthful exuberance. Details such as Lola’s simple care chart may even serve as inspiration for other young aspiring pet owners. The simple text makes this a suitable story for sharing one-on-one or in a small group or for beginning readers to pursue independently.

This sweet story of first-time pet ownership is sure to appeal to young animal lovers of all kinds and especially to feline fanciers. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-736-5

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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