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From the Brendan Wenzel series

A masterful consideration of perception, exploration, and, ultimately, love.

Seeming simplicity yields rich rewards in this sensory-steeped tale of adventure and friendship.

Color-sapped outlines of a wilderness kick off this tale of a dog and cat traveling together. “Two together headed home. / Cat and dog. / Bell and Bone. / For a moment. For a day. // Two together on their way.” After they peek at their reflections in the water, different artistic styles are used in the following pages to depict each animal; the dog is rendered in curved acrylics, the cat in spiky colored pencil. Sometimes the very page splits in two, one side portraying the dog’s perceptions and the other the cat’s. After a toad waylays them, they encounter a bear, a cave, and a rainstorm. As night falls, the colors grow deep and sumptuous, and home appears like a beacon. Inside, the two are now more rendered more realistically and in more detail than ever before. That is, until they go out again to prowl the night. Featuring the singsong nature of some of the best nursery rhymes, the tale reads with an effortless lilting quality, gently rhyming. Yet it’s the art that’s the showstopper here, and one wonders if the two are crispest in the home because we’re seeing them the way their human owner does. What is unquestionable is the friends’ affection for each other, the pair sticking side by side through thick and thin.

A masterful consideration of perception, exploration, and, ultimately, love. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 23, 2024

ISBN: 9781797202778

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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