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Children will surely want their own large brown reading buddies after listening to this book about the joys and challenges...

Dogs (and other children) are often used as reading buddies in schools and libraries, but bears may seem a bit unusual in that role.

When school starts, Mrs. Fitz-Pea pairs up her students as reading buddies, but Adelaide has a surprise. She brings her own buddy, a large brown bear in a bright blue, patterned ski sweater. Although the teacher is frightened (she literally screams: “AHHHHH!”), Adelaide is quick to describe the talents of bears. “They know how to build peaceful places where no one bothers you while you read. They sit side by side, knee to knee, and put the book between you, so you both can see.” In this double-page spread, Adelaide and her bear are pictured inside a flowered tent sitting on colorful pillows atop a granny-square afghan. Bears also encourage their human partners and “roar” their approval. When Adelaide finishes singing her bear’s praises, Mrs. Fitz-Pea invites him in. The digital artwork has a retro look, and there is diversity in the classroom, including an African-American teacher. Bespectacled Adelaide, pale-skinned and dark-haired, uses some sophisticated language and says: “Bears know that once you get a taste for books, you’ll discover trail after trail of adventure and clamber to new heights.”

Children will surely want their own large brown reading buddies after listening to this book about the joys and challenges of reading. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62370-654-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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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. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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Too many bugs, figuratively.

Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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