Readers will want to move right in.

READ REVIEW

JULIA'S HOUSE FOR LOST CREATURES

When a little girl opens her house to “lost creatures,” chaos reigns until she sets rules for harmonious coexistence.

Julia and her house arrive by tortoiseback to the seashore, where she decides it’s too quiet and makes a sign advertising “Julia’s House for Lost Creatures.” She’s quickly inundated with “lost and homeless creatures” asking for towels and soap, tea and toast. The creatures soon take over, spilling things, neglecting to clean up and playing loud music. Distraught, Julia orders everyone to “STOP!” and makes another sign dividing chores among her new housemates. With order restored, all is well until the house makes disturbing noises, prompting resourceful Julia to create a final sign recruiting a handyman. Judicious placement of the spare text and enlarged, attention-getting onomatopoetic words like “whoosh,” “scritch scratch,” “boom” and “creak” add drama, while fanciful pen, ink and watercolor illustrations create a whimsical world of cartoonlike creatures. Julia’s all practicality in her kerchief, apron and pink high-top sneakers, while her ramshackle house atop the giant tortoise is the picture of cozy comfort until the invading troll, dragon, mermaid and companions trigger a rumpus reminiscent of Sendak’s Wild Things. Hatke steps from graphic novels (Zita the Spacegirl) to the picture-book format with aplomb, blending tropes from both worlds for a sweetly weird domestic adventure.

Readers will want to move right in. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59643-866-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Though the story is simply told, the overall effect is somewhat cryptic, making it a challenge to connect with these...

FREDDIE & GINGERSNAP FIND A CLOUD TO KEEP

From the Freddie & Gingersnap series

Two friends off on an adventure have an unexpected encounter that leads to new discoveries and a sense of satisfaction.

Readers familiar with their eponymous first outing (2014) will remember that Freddie, a skinny green dinosaur with sharp teeth, and Gingersnap, a pink and purple dragon with a bow on her single, straggly hair, overcame their differences to become friends. Newcomers, however, may have a bit more trouble initially figuring out just what kinds of animals they are and why they are tangled together, flying through the sky (courtesy of Gingersnap’s wings) in search of clouds. Straightforward sentences capture their mildly contentious debate about whether anyone can own a cloud. Then suddenly they come upon a hot air balloon with two singing children inside. Mistaking the balloon for a cloud, both are captivated by how friendly and engaging this particular “cloud” is—even more so when the young pilot apparently conjures up a magical thunderstorm. Black outlines and intense colors show up well against the mostly blue backgrounds, while the textures of paper and paint add visual interest. Like its predecessor, this also features a double gatefold midway through; however, this one does little to enhance the slight plot or heighten the atmosphere.

Though the story is simply told, the overall effect is somewhat cryptic, making it a challenge to connect with these characters and their quest. (song lyrics, score [not seen]) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5976-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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DIRTBALL PETE

Visually, Dirtball Pete is a charmer—a begrimed lad with a thatch of unruly hair, a crooked smile and button eyes as black as tar. He wears his dirt well, and even when his mother scrubs him squeaky clean in preparation for a school recital he is still cherubic, though every reader will know it won’t take long for Pete to look like he was used as a chimney brush. Brennan’s text is likewise pleasing, with an idiosyncratic beat: “With one final tidying, then a big kiss, then a quick swipe of a tissue to remove the kiss, then one last smoothing of his hair…” But somewhere along the line the story gets left behind. Pete’s a dirtball, Pete gets cleaned to give his public presentation, Pete gets dirty but still gives his recital, Pete gets a big round of applause because he talks the loudest. Being loud doesn’t follow in any sense from his grunginess, nor does it add to Pete’s persona. Introduced so late in the proceedings, it’s like the author threw a little water on our hero, muddying his heart-robbing filthiness. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-375-83425-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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