A cohesive chord that nevertheless rings hollow.

MUSICAL MAC

A talented bug wants to play music but is nervous about taking the stage solo.

To compete in the Soggy Bog Talent Show, Mac the millipede decides to join a band. He grabs his many instruments in his many, many hands and heads out. Mac joins in with each rehearsing group he finds, playing violin with a tiny, antennaed orchestra, blowing his trumpet with some alley cats, and crooning with a bird a cappella group, among others. Each group’s spokesanimal compliments his talents but dismisses the prospective musician. The birds even try to eat him! They scare Mac so much that he runs all the way onto the talent show stage—alone. Then all “his new friends” in the audience—the bands he’s recently met—call out for him to play a different instrument (and “Sorry for trying to eat you!” yells one bird). Mac breathes deeply, then starts playing every instrument at once, embracing his (reader-anticipated) calling to be “his very own ONE MAN BAND!” The text incorporates some playful elements, including some internal rhyme and sequential panels, although its simple story with predictable plot turns provides little beyond the first read-through. All the animal characters, even mammals, are bug-eyed, rendered in saturated colors and placed against detailed backgrounds that provide some visual fodder.

A cohesive chord that nevertheless rings hollow. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3370-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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