Not a must—but a cool one to share with young penguin fans.

READ REVIEW

FIVE FLYING PENGUINS

Five little penguins shoot the breeze—until a seal arrives to eat them.

As the quintet sit “on the ice… / The first one [says], ‘Today feels very nice!’ ” Cue the counting as the second and third penguins make their own rhythmic and rhyming observations about the weather. But the fourth and fifth penguins have something else on their minds: the seal that wants them “for a meal!” The penguins dive into the water, making a huge splash as they “swim, swim, swim” and “[fly] through the sea.” When they’ve “lost the seal at last” (as the third penguin opines), they rise up for air and find the seal trailing after them. Rather than a grim final page turn, the book ends as the “sneaky, silly seal” tags one of the penguins to be “it.” In a nice twist on the counting-book formula, all five penguins are a different species. Though these species are not labeled, they appear to be king, macaroni, gentoo, chinstrap, and rockhopper penguins—all of which actually can live in the same Antarctic region. However, that a seal—a natural predator of the penguin—would play tag breaks with scientific consistency. Coleman’s digital illustrations are set in cool tones, making the orange of the penguins’ beaks pop against the frigid backgrounds. Careful readers will notice the seal approaching in every picture.

Not a must—but a cool one to share with young penguin fans. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-805-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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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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A satisfying package that will indeed keep toddlers busy—exemplary.

MY FIRST BUSY BOOK

From the World of Eric Carle series

The latest addition to the World of Eric Carle is proof that the Wilder Award–winning picture-book creator knows what appeals to children.

This board book is both developmentally appropriate and aesthetically pleasing—perfect for toddlers. In a sturdy, oversize (10 1/2 inches square) format, Carle recycles iconic images from his vast canon to introduce shapes, colors, numbers, animals, and sounds. The flower on the cover is almost (but not quite) identical to the flower that grows from The Tiny Seed (1970). Seeing the animals throughout the pages is like recognizing old friends. But Carle and the book’s designer, Hannah Frece, put these familiar images to fresh uses to create a logical, accessible, and harmonious concept book. Although billed as a “busy book,” it is not hyperactive, using just five or six images per spread. From the mirror that lights up the sun on the cover to the touch-and-feel inserts on the page about animals to the single flap that hides a mouse from a cat, the tactile elements have been chosen with intention instead of just as gimmicks. On other pages, foils and textures are subtle, with many barely raised images that invite tracing.

A satisfying package that will indeed keep toddlers busy—exemplary. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5791-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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