Tender, reassuring, and lots of fun.

DO NOT GO IN THERE!

What is behind that alluring red door?

Two friends see the red door with the gold handle and have very different reactions to what might be behind it. Morton, a horned bunny with a lizardlike tail, tells of amazing possibilities and happy endings, presented in red text. Maybe there will be balloons and candy or spaceships, carnivals, and puppies, and wondrous magic. Bogart, a large, fuzzy, purple creature, counters each of Morton’s starry-eyed prognostications with dire predictions of danger and doom, especially to bunnies. Maybe there’s a scary wolf behind this door that eats bunnies. Maybe it collects pointy forks to eat all the bunnies, and it will take Morton’s imagined spaceships to find more bunnies in outer space. The terrors, presented in blue text, grow harsher and more frightening, but Morton is ever ready with more bright imaginings. Morton’s innate sweetness and joy reassure Bogart, and perhaps they will open the door together. Horn’s take on the friendship between the pessimist and the optimist speaks directly to young readers whose fears of the unknown can sometimes overwhelm their innocent imaginations. Burton’s very bright illustrations depict a mashup of the scary and the fun, with Morton’s happy thoughts always coming out ahead. Sharp-eyed readers will also notice another creature looking on, watching the developments. Children and their grown-ups can read together in two voices, perhaps switching characters for the repeat that is sure to come.

Tender, reassuring, and lots of fun. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-18949-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

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THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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