Great for storytime or for little monkeys who need encouragement to run around.

READ REVIEW

SPUNKY LITTLE MONKEY

Every little monkey needs to get up and move!

“Sleepy Little Monkey / Won’t get out of bed. // Mama called the Doctor / And the Doctor said: / ‘Apple Juice, / Orange Juice, / Gooseberry Pies— / Monkey needs / some exercise!’ ” Little Monkey pops out of bed and, after dressing, does some quick calisthenics. “First you get the rhythm of the head: / Ding-Dong! // Have you got the rhythm of the head? / Ding-Dong!” A sway of the head accompanies each ding-dong. Then there’s a clap and a stomp. There’s some hip shaking. “Put them all together / You’ll be feeling so much better.” Monkey goes through the movements forward and backward and gives a cheer. “Spunky Little Monkey / Ready for the day. / Come on, Monkey— / LET’S GO PLAY!” A frequent collaborator of the deceased Martin’s, Sampson turns out a rhythmic invitation to wiggle in the morning. The text's catchy enough that little monkeys will want to hear it again and simple enough they’ll learn it quickly. Won’s big, bright digital illustrations (made from scanned watercolor washes) feature an adorable, rosy-cheeked monkey of indeterminate gender in jean shorts and striped T-shirt going through the motions before running off with animal friends. It may be a bit unclear exactly what motions are called for each time, but Little Monkey's moving, and that's the point.

Great for storytime or for little monkeys who need encouragement to run around. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-77643-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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A sweet cetacean story.

THE HEART OF A WHALE

The flora and fauna of the ocean respond to a lonely whale’s beautiful music by helping him find another whale.

“Whale’s song was so beautiful it could reach the farthest of faraways.” Over a double-page spread, a simply drawn white whale—detailed with a large eye, a small mouth and fins, and a small lavender heart—swims past a variety of pastel-hued sea denizens. The lyrical text is set in type that emulates hand-lettering. Watercolors are the appropriate choice for a tale that occurs in a sea full of creatures—with an occasional glimpse of land and sky as well as a cheerfully colored sailboat and lighthouse. Collage, pencil sketching, and washes produce a dreamlike effect that also feels sweetly humorous. A double-page spread of sea horses lounging atop spirited jellyfish is especially whimsical. Musical terms are cleverly used to describe the singing whale’s positive effects on others (“a cheerful symphony for a sad urchin”). After several pages of poetic lines about the talented singer, readers learn that his heart feels “empty.” The ocean carries his sighing wish across miles of lovingly rendered sea habitats until the solo becomes a duet. Although the flap copy speaks of friendship, even the youngest of readers will sense that this is a whale of a romance. Beneath its warmth is a poignant reminder of the loss to all if whale songs become history.

A sweet cetacean story. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984-83627-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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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