While the larger format of the similarly themed Take Away the A, by Michaël Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo (2014), is more...

THE ALPHABET THIEF

In rhyming text, this nontraditional alphabet book playfully depicts a thief in the act of stealing the letters of the alphabet from A to Z.

“The Alphabet Thief stole all of the A’s, / And all of the coats became cots. / All of the fairs were turned into firs, / And all of the boats became bots.” The verse never falters as the thief makes her way through the alphabet. Clever handling of the letter Q pairs it with U, turning “queasy” into “easy” and “squash” into “sash.” What the black-cloaked thief doesn’t see is that she is being followed by the narrator, a red-haired, white sleuth in beret and ponytail with a dog sidekick. Can they stop this terrible thief? Of course. The gumshoe takes all the Y’s and Z’s, turns them into slingshots and “ammo” and fires them at the thief, who promptly falls asleep. The ink-and-watercolor illustrations share space with the text in energetically varied layouts, the diminutive trim reminiscent of the old Nutshell Library books. The ending poses a small problem for libraries by addressing readers: “And who was the hero who saved the day? / It was me! You can write my name here.”

While the larger format of the similarly themed Take Away the A, by Michaël Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo (2014), is more suitable for group sharing, this sneaky romp will do well one-on-one. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498877-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you

THE THANK YOU BOOK

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Piggie is “one lucky pig,” and she’s determined to make sure she thanks “everyone who is important to” her in this, the final Elephant & Piggie book.

Gerald is sure his friend will forget someone—“someone important”—but Piggie assures him, “It will be a THANK-O-RAMA!” Piggie proceeds to thank the Squirrels for their great ideas, Snake for playing ball, and the Pigeon “for never giving up.” Piggie thanks and thanks: “I am a thanking machine!” She thanks character after character, even the Flies (“Any time, dude!”), as Gerald continues to interject that she’ll forget “someone VERY important.” Finally Piggie runs out of thanks, and by this time Gerald is steamed. “I goofed,” Piggie says in itty-bitty type, before lavishing thanks on Gerald. But that’s not whom Piggie forgot to thank! A classic Willems tantrum later, Gerald reveals the “someone important”: “Our reader.” Of course. “We could not be ‘us’ without you,” says Gerald, earnestly looking out from the page, and Piggie chimes in, “You are the best!” As Elephant & Piggie books go, this isn’t one of the strongest, but it is a validating valediction to fans of the two characters, who have won Willems two Geisel Medals and five Honors. Yes, Gerald and Piggie have ushered countless readers into literacy, but as they rightly note, reading is a collaborative act.

Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you . (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7828-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

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A solo debut for Wenzel showcasing both technical chops and a philosophical bent.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Caldecott Honor Book

THEY ALL SAW A CAT

Wouldn’t the same housecat look very different to a dog and a mouse, a bee and a flea, a fox, a goldfish, or a skunk?

The differences are certainly vast in Wenzel’s often melodramatic scenes. Benign and strokable beneath the hand of a light-skinned child (visible only from the waist down), the brindled cat is transformed to an ugly, skinny slinker in a suspicious dog’s view. In a fox’s eyes it looks like delectably chubby prey but looms, a terrifying monster, over a cowering mouse. It seems a field of colored dots to a bee; jagged vibrations to an earthworm; a hairy thicket to a flea. “Yes,” runs the terse commentary’s refrain, “they all saw the cat.” Words in italics and in capital letters in nearly every line give said commentary a deliberate cadence and pacing: “The cat walked through the world, / with its whiskers, ears, and paws… // and the fish saw A CAT.” Along with inviting more reflective viewers to ruminate about perception and subjectivity, the cat’s perambulations offer elemental visual delights in the art’s extreme and sudden shifts in color, texture, and mood from one page or page turn to the next.

A solo debut for Wenzel showcasing both technical chops and a philosophical bent. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5013-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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