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Refugees forced to find a new home—sadly, an always timely subject—deserve better storytelling than this

Polar bears find refuge on a tropical island paradise.

Three polar bear friends find themselves adrift on the “big blue ocean” when their ice-floe home cracks apart. Initially unconcerned, they entertain themselves, but then night comes and they grow worried. Spotting land, they ask the three Holsteins on the island if they can come ashore but are turned away—they are “too bear-ish.” Still at sea, with their bit of ice growing smaller, they encounter another island inhabited by a single panda. The panda does not want them either; the island will be too crowded with three more critters. Tea-drinking giraffes reject their pleas also. At last, they encounter an empty island where they can lounge and play games. And when a boatload of monkeys sails by, the polar bears bid them “WELCOME!” Barroux’s tale is perhaps meant to send a caution about global warming, but the message falls short with the antics of the animals. Finally finding a home after what is supposed to be a catastrophe and then playing ball and sunbathing just does not flow properly. The colorful, full-bleed art features bears and giraffes with stylized, oddly shaped snouts; the panda’s and the monkeys’ faces look startlingly puglike in contrast.

Refugees forced to find a new home—sadly, an always timely subject—deserve better storytelling than this . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0444-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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