From the Narwhal and Jelly series , Vol. 5

The holidays have come for Narwhal and his friends.

In this fifth installment of the Narwhal and Jelly series, the eponymous pals are looking forward to cold waters, songs, and the arrival of the Merry Mermicorn, a “part mermaid and part unicorn and completely mer-aculous” being who “spreads sheer cheer and pure awesomeness wherever she goes!” Narwhal and Jelly exchange gifts and enjoy undersea snows, all the while dropping their trademark facts about ocean life (this time taking a slant toward all things chilly). This slim volume houses six different vignettes, among them “The Perfect Present,” in which Jelly agonizes over finding Narwhal the right gift, and “The Mean Green Jelly Bean,” a story the friends write and illustrate about an unappealing sentient jelly bean who is flavored like “pickle-scum snail-slime puree.” Clanton’s art is instantly recognizable, with its simply wrought characters and cool blue palette punctuated with splashes of contrasting color. Full of “sheer cheer” itself and with an emphasis on kindness and friendship, this volume doesn’t miss a beat alongside its predecessors. Although it’s never explicitly stated, most young readers will discern that Narwhal’s holiday is a thinly veiled riff on Christmas traditions, with its central visiting figure who’s akin to Santa, Narwhal’s peppermint-stick–striped horn, and carols like “Jingle Shells” and “We Fish You a Merry Mermicorn.”

A holiday treat for fans. (Graphic fantasy. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6251-5

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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


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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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...


A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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