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A relatable tale that will bolster the spirits of readers dreading their own field trips.

Everything goes wrong on the Wildwood Elementary field trip.

This picture book features one not-so-wild kid and a school bus full of some pretty wild creatures: George the gorilla, Charlie the crocodile, and Mr. Grizzly, a bear, as the teacher. Mr. Grizzly takes the class into the woods, where the narrator, a light-skinned, bespectacled child, winds up covered in poison ivy, getting pooped on by a bird, and running from a mountain lion. In the end, the anti-nature kiddo manages to find some joy in the great outdoors and delightfully quips, “S’mores are my favorite part of the food chain.” Scharnhorst’s story—a follow-up to My School Stinks! (2021)—is effectively told through diary entries, which gives readers a sense of the narrator’s gripes and inner monologue. Ultimately finding the silver lining in the situation is a classic moral for a good reason. Patton’s illustrations include fine line detail, like Patricia the porcupine’s individual quills, the snail’s tiny tie, and the intricacies of the map. The narrator’s expressions and body language—conveying everything from misery to pride—complement the text. The look of the notebook paper backing the text combined with the illustrations sometimes makes for pages that appear busy. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A relatable tale that will bolster the spirits of readers dreading their own field trips. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-40333-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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