Irresistible fun.

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THE FIELD

Gather around for a boisterous game of futbol in Paul and Alcántara’s excellent picture-book debut.

To begin, the players assemble. With a ball at the ready, one young player calls on others—children, and even adults—to join in. Readers see a diverse cast of mostly dark-skinned characters often gendered in implicit ways. Everyone heads on over to the field, where each player warms up. As the group splits into teams of “friends versus friends,” one brave player shoos away the grazing cows. The game then begins. Basing the narrative on his experiences growing up in Saint Lucia, Paul weaves in italicized Creole phrases and words alongside their English counterparts in such a way that the text bursts with infectious joy. “Isi!” shouts a player, while another player cries “This way!” But suddenly, clouds block the sun and rain falls. “Fini? Game over?” Of course not. The friendly scuffle continues on the muddy field, through every splash, slide, and flop. Colorful and dynamic, Alcántara’s pictures depict an island community in lush shades of green and blue dotted with houses of bright red and orange; in one series of striking illustrations, the players’ vibrant clothing contrasts against muddied backgrounds. Watch the sun appear again when one player scores a “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!” It’s a triumphant, earned moment that lingers even as the story reaches its suitably subdued coda.

Irresistible fun. (author’s note, bibliography, glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4312-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Eggs-quisitely excellent.

THE GOOD EGG

Being a good egg can be eggs-cruciatingly stressful.

This earnest counterpart to John and Oswald’s hilarious The Bad Seed (2017) opens with a direct address from an oval-shaped saint to readers: “Oh, hello! I was just rescuing this cat. Know why? Because I’m a good egg.” Just how good is this egg? “Verrrrrry good.” Without hesitation, the bespectacled egg offers to help others with carrying groceries, painting houses, and changing tires. The good egg even tries to “keep the peace” among the other 11 eggs in its dozen, who forgo their bedtime, eat sugary cereal, and break stuff. Rotten eggs indeed! When the pressure of being good proves too much, the beleaguered egg embarks on a journey of self-care. John embeds a seed of a great idea—finding a balance between personal and social responsibility—within a rip-roaring, touching narrative. Despite his sober narrator, the author’s sense of humor remains intact thanks to some clever (and punny) wordplay. Likewise, Oswald’s digitally composed, bright artwork pops with rib-tickling close-ups and character-building moments. Both text and art complement each other perfectly. Too long alone, the protagonist heads back to its rowdy family, imparting a slice of wisdom to readers: “I’ll be good to my fellow eggs while also being good to myself.” It’s an empowering moment made all the better when this good egg returns to find a rapturous welcome from the others.

Eggs-quisitely excellent. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-286600-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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