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Keen and clever with a knack for clear instruction.

Alphabet-letter magnets come to life to explore how the letters C and K share the same sound.

When the refrigerator magnets decide to tell a story, C and K offer up a variety of possible protagonists: cat or kitten, crab or koala, clown or kangaroo, and so on. Each potential character is depicted in a childlike crayon drawing, affixed to the refrigerator’s blue surface with the appropriate letter magnets, all of whom have remarkably expressive eyes. Suddenly K accuses C of theft. “Everybody knows the K sound is my sound. Every time you start one of my K words, you just CONFUSE everybody!” C suggests they share the sound, but K retorts that C keeps “taking all the good words!…Like CASTLE and CLOUDS!” The argument continues until they storm off to separate sides of the refrigerator, refusing to stand next to each other. This concerns the other letters, who point out that if C and K won’t stand together “there wouldn’t be any SMOCKS or BLOCKS! No STICKS or LICKS! No ROCKETS or POCKETS or PICKLES!” Indeed, “the world would be quite out of LUCK.” These nightmare scenarios are depicted with letters arranged to form the incomplete words in an effective demonstration of phonemic principles. The clever letters even address the concept of a silent K when followed by an N, as in in the word “knight.”

Keen and clever with a knack for clear instruction. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-34880-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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A spellbinding tale that will never brown or fade with time.

Soup is always the correct solution.

Evergreen, a young squirrel who lives high in a tree in Buckthorn Forest, is afraid of most things, but top of the list is thunderstorms. When her mother, who makes magical soup, asks her to take an acorn full of soup to Granny Oak, who is ill with the flu, Evergreen is afraid that she won’t be brave enough to do it. But she knows she must—and that she must be careful not to spill a drop, as “Granny Oak will need every bit of it to get better.” Setting off, the scared squirrel encounters a menagerie of adventures and forest creatures in her journey. It’s a wild, imaginative read and one that twists and turns like a forest path, with unexpected surprises along the way. Cordell is a masterful storyteller, and readers will love following Evergreen’s journey as she grows into a more confident squirrel. The artwork is the real star of the show, however; there’s a hint of Sendak in the characters’ humorous expressions and in the timeless pen-and-watercolor backgrounds that cry out to be examined in detail. Educators and caregivers will love reading this story aloud in installments, and readers will adore seeing what Evergreen encounters in her travels. A hint of future stories will tantalize readers, who will close the book eager for a new volume to devour.

A spellbinding tale that will never brown or fade with time. (Early chapter book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-31717-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022

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