AMANDA PANDA AND THE BIGGER, BETTER BIRTHDAY

A sweet celebration of friendship and the drama of kindergarten

Amanda Panda is ecstatic about having the first birthday in her kindergarten, but when her best friend’s birthday threatens to outshine hers, they must find a way to work it out.

Amanda Panda is “special” because she has the first birthday in her class, and she will be “famous” for being the first to turn 6. Her birthday is tomorrow, but when she goes out to the bus with her party invitations in hand, she discovers that Bitsy’s birthday is today! Throughout Bitsy’s birthday celebration at school, Amanda broods—she does not want a “leftover song” or “leftover cupcakes” on “her special day.” Their birthday parties are planned for the same day, too—Saturday—which makes things so bad that they stop speaking to each other. But Amanda and Bitsy quickly find that they miss each other and don’t want to miss each other’s birthday parties. They find a solution that pleases both of them as well as all their friends. Grove’s illustrations in watercolor and ink create endearing pandas in festive scenes with a pastel palette. Amanda Panda’s emotional roller coaster rings true, and the revived friendship is delightful. It may not be the most original story, but as long as children’s emotions run high, it is one that doesn’t get old.

A sweet celebration of friendship and the drama of kindergarten . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6819-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

HOW TO CATCH THE EASTER BUNNY

From the How To Catch… series

This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers.

The bestselling series (How to Catch an Elf, 2016, etc.) about capturing mythical creatures continues with a story about various ways to catch the Easter Bunny as it makes its annual deliveries.

The bunny narrates its own story in rhyming text, beginning with an introduction at its office in a manufacturing facility that creates Easter eggs and candy. The rabbit then abruptly takes off on its delivery route with a tiny basket of eggs strapped to its back, immediately encountering a trap with carrots and a box propped up with a stick. The narrative focuses on how the Easter Bunny avoids increasingly complex traps set up to catch him with no explanation as to who has set the traps or why. These traps include an underground tunnel, a fluorescent dance floor with a hidden pit of carrots, a robot bunny, pirates on an island, and a cannon that shoots candy fish, as well as some sort of locked, hazardous site with radiation danger. Readers of previous books in the series will understand the premise, but others will be confused by the rabbit’s frenetic escapades. Cartoon-style illustrations have a 1960s vibe, with a slightly scary, bow-tied bunny with chartreuse eyes and a glowing palette of neon shades that shout for attention.

This bunny escapes all the traps but fails to find a logical plot or an emotional connection with readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3817-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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