Who who who could resist the gentlest tale of adventure? Not you you you.

One little owl dares to fly into the unknown.

When most owls are born, they ask only one question for the rest of their lives: “Who?” Not Oliver. When he hatches, he adds “What?” “When?” “Where?” and “Why?” to the mix. Like his family, Oliver lives in a big tree, the only world they’ve ever known. Yet all too soon he’s wondering about what lies beyond. But taking that extra step only happens when his best friend, Bug, falls into the river and is swept away. Comically flying to the rescue (the spherical bird does not look particularly aerodynamic), Oliver meets new animals (some further facts about which appear in the backmatter) and sees new sights. Some of it is good and some of it is bad, but in the end, when he tells his family of his adventures, they’re inspired to explore the world for themselves. With skill, the book deftly avoids the pitfall of preachiness, showing and not telling the moral of this tale. The old message exhorting readers to try the new is also nicely tempered by the dreadful rainstorm Oliver and Bug suffer through, showing that not every new experience is purely joyful. Deeply saturated colors, particularly the blues and orange-reds, pulse on the page, giving lift and verve to Oliver’s story.

Who who who could resist the gentlest tale of adventure? Not you you you. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-52987-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


Sentimental but effective.

A book aimed at easing separation anxiety and reinforcing bonds.

Twins Liza and Jeremy awaken during a thunderstorm and go to their mother for comfort. She reassures them that they’re safe and says, “You know we’re always together, no matter what,” when they object to returning to bed. She then explains that when she was a child her mother told her about the titular “Invisible String,” encouraging them to envision it as a link between them no matter what. “People who love each other are always connected by a very special String made of love,” she tells them, reinforcing this idea as they proceed to imagine various scenarios, fantastic and otherwise, that might cause them to be separated in body. She also affirms that this string can “reach all the way to Uncle Brian in heaven” and that it doesn’t go away if she’s angry with them or when they have conflicts. As they go to bed, reassured, the children, who present white, imagine their friends and diverse people around the world connected with invisible strings, promoting a vision of global unity and empathy. While the writing often feels labored and needlessly repetitive, Lew-Vriethoff’s playful cartoon art enhances and lightens the message-driven text, which was originally published in 2000 with illustrations by Geoff Stevenson.

Sentimental but effective. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-48623-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

Close Quickview