A gentle preview of mortality for young ones, softening but not disguising the prospect and arrival of loss.

AUNT FANNY'S STAR

CHILDREN AND THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE

An elder relative leaves memories and mementos with three young bunnies.

Signaling its theme with its subtitle, the tale begins with the arrival of Great Aunt Fanny to the Bunny household, where she takes over a bedroom but proves to be an easy new addition, being a playful soul with “more silliness in her head than the three little bunnies put together.” (Pleasantly, all of the grown-ups seem to accept the new family arrangement as a matter of course.) Every night she takes Lisa, Linda, and Tony out to the porch to wave at the stars and watch them twinkle back. She also teaches them how to make daisy crowns and willow whistles, shares small treasures from her chest of drawers, and warns that sooner or later she’ll be going “to that place where we were before we were born.” And so it is, when one day she doesn’t wake up, that everyone gathers amid tears to bury her reverently in the woods. Afterward the children, thinking of where she has gone, wave at the stars and watch them twinkle back. Oral echoes the episode’s gentle, low-key tone with scenes of fuzzy anthropomorphic rabbits in cozy country dress and surroundings.

A gentle preview of mortality for young ones, softening but not disguising the prospect and arrival of loss. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-988-8341-30-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: minedition

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow,...

MY NEW FRIEND IS SO FUN!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Can Gerald and Piggie’s friendship withstand the friendly overtures of Brian Bat?

When Snake informs Gerald that Piggie is playing with Brian Bat, he is at first complacent. Brian is “nice,” he observes; Snake concurs—after all, he says, “Brian is my Best Friend!” Their mutual reflection that Piggie and Brian “must be having a super-duper fun time!” turns, however, to paranoia when they realize that if their best pals “are having that much fun together, then… / …maybe they do not need us” (that last is printed in teeny-tiny, utterly demoralized type). Gerald and Snake dash/slither to put an end to the fun. Their fears are confirmed when the two new buddies tell them they have “been playing BEST FRIEND GAMES!”—which, it turns out, means making drawings of their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake. Awww. While the buildup to the friends’ confrontation is characteristically funny, there’s a certain feeling of anticlimax to the story’s resolution. How many young children, when playing with a new friend, are likely to spend their time thinking of the friends that they are not playing with? This is unfortunate, as the emotions that Gerald and Snake experience are realistic and profound, deserving of more than a platitudinous, unrealistic response.

Everything that readers have come to love about the Elephant & Piggie books is present—masterful pacing, easy-to-follow, color-coded speech bubbles, hilarious body language—except an emotionally satisfying ending. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7958-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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