From the Chip & Ben series

Nothing heavy here, just good times with good beaver buddies.

Two beaver friends take on a swimming challenge.

Chip and Ben, young beaver pals featured in two previous books by Beyl, love to swim together, but it's usually an excuse to dive for rocks and explore the area near each other’s homes. When Catfish urges them to race with him to the far end of Beaver Pond, it's a huge deal for the youngsters, since they’ve “never swum all the way across the pond.” Readers may detect a contradiction here since the beavers would have had to swim all the way across the pond to get to each other’s homes, but close inspection of the artwork reveals that Ben’s family has a motorboat-style sailing vessel made out of a hollowed tree trunk. Chip, who narrates the book, has qualms about the long swim, but Ben says that “it'll be an adventure!” With their parents’ permission, the two venture out. Ben speeds ahead, but Chip struggles. “I wish I were pretending and exploring with Ben. This isn't fun anymore,” he laments. Best friend that he is, Ben slows down to wait for Chip, and the two finish the journey together. This ode to friendship is heartwarming and includes inventive touches like “twig-and-maple-leaf sandwiches.” Beyl’s cartoony illustrations are expressive and engaging throughout; of particular note is a double-page map of the pond and surrounding landscape showing such intriguing landmarks as “Broken Canoe” and “Scary Stumps.” Chip and Ben are a delight, and their modest-yet-huge adventure’s a treat. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nothing heavy here, just good times with good beaver buddies. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8075-5464-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022


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


A real treasure of a book for any child who has struggled to learn a skill.

A young Black boy struggles with writing—until a special guest visits his class.

Abdul loves to tell stories about the people in his neighborhood, and his friends at school love hearing them. But whenever he tries to write down his stories in a notebook, spelling rules confuse him, and his “scribbly, scratchy, scrawly letters” never stay on the lines. Abdul decides that his stories are not for books. One day, a visitor comes to Abdul’s class; Mr. Muhammad—a Black man with a flattop haircut like Abdul’s and whose sneakers, like Abdul’s, have “not a single crease or scuff”—is a writer who urges the students to “write new stories with new superheroes.” Abdul feels motivated to give writing another shot, but again he ends up with endless erasure marks and smudges. Mr. Muhammad shows Abdul his own messy notebook, and Abdul, who is left-handed, decides to try writing without erasing. He makes a mess but searches through the clutter for sentences he loves. He rewrites and rewrites and works on his mistakes until he forms a story he likes, proudly claiming the title of writer. Bright, full-color, textured digital illustrations depict a racially diverse, joyful community. This story offers an honest portrayal of learning differences and demonstrates the importance of role models who reflect kids’ own backgrounds. It is a lovely addition to the shelf of meaningful children’s books portraying Black Muslim Americans in everyday situations. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A real treasure of a book for any child who has struggled to learn a skill. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6298-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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