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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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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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