It’s an obvious overture to parental transitioning tactics, but it’s an imaginative adventure just the same.

ZOE'S JUNGLE

Zoe and Addie have been given a five-minute warning from their mother—will their game of chase end on time?

Murguia has a way of tapping into young children’s foibles. In Zoe Gets Ready (2012), Zoe gains the responsibility for choosing her own outfit. In Zoe’s Room (No Sisters Allowed) (2013), Zoe learns to share. In this latest Zoe adventure, Zoe and Addie’s mother tells the kids they have five minutes before they must leave the playground. Zoe erupts into outraged shouts and defiant flailings until her mother declares, “Four minutes!” Zoe had better make the rest of the time count. Addie imaginatively transforms into the wild Addiebeast and Zoe, the explorer, must capture her. They race across roaring rivers (the play pond), swing on vines (the monkey bars) and crawl through thick jungle underbrush (a tunnel). Addie’s orange polka-dot dress turns into a spotted tail or paw flashing off-page, hastening the chase. But all the while, mother’s countdown continues, in ever-more-emphatic speech bubbles. Will the Addiebeast be caught? Zoe is full of spitfire and dash, plus there is a veritable explosion of sparkles on the cover. How are young readers to resist?

It’s an obvious overture to parental transitioning tactics, but it’s an imaginative adventure just the same. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-55869-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A brassy, assertive fellow—young readers in the middle of their own power struggles will relate.

TOUGH TUG

A tugboat’s size and might are easy to anthropomorphize; add this personified puffer to the mix.

Tough Tug is built near Seattle, made of strong steel welded together and adorned with a fresh coat of bright red paint. Wide googly eyes and a determined smile complete the look. On launch day, Tough Tug triumphantly flashes forward and backward, twirling and swirling through the water. Older tugboats (distinguished variously by mustaches, glasses, and eye patches) grumble at the youngster’s bravado. “Push and pull is what tugs do. Practice THAT.” Tough Tug’s first job is to tow a barge to Alaska. Rhythmic mantras churn across the surface of the water in bold navy letters: “Ready, steady. / Steady, ready. // Chug and tug. / Tug and chug.” But Tough Tug is overeager and challenges Arctic Tug to a race. The thrum changes to “Race and run! / Run and race!” Arctic Tug is first to Sitka, but while crossing the open ocean to Anchorage, the older tug gets into trouble. It’s Tough Tug to the rescue! McClurkan’s digital paintings look quite modern, but there is a feel to his foamy waves that recalls the mid-20th-century harbor of Little Toot. The anthropomorphized boats have plenty of personality, and readers who study the expressions on the container ships will be rewarded. An author’s note explains this was inspired by a true story of one tug rescuing another boat from a competing tugboat company.

A brassy, assertive fellow—young readers in the middle of their own power struggles will relate. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5039-5098-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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