A sweet and sensitive encouragement of wildlife conservation.

ELEPHANTS WALK TOGETHER

The Asian elephants Precious and Baba, friends as calves in the wild, maintain their friendship during mutual captivity and then joyfully rekindle it after a long separation.

In the initial double-page spread, adult elephants are in the background, contentedly grazing against a lush landscape of tropical greenery, while in the foreground, two young elephants happily tussle in mud. Broad brush strokes delineate the grass, while the elephants sport details of skin and hair. The two baby elephants “forage and roam, curious and proud, under a beaming sun.” After a second serene depiction of life in the wild, the story changes: “Until one day, hunters capture the calves and send them away.” Although it is evident that one of the elephants is resisting, the captivity scene is appropriately low-key for young children. The text continues to sound nonjudgmental, and the art is never horrific. Yet readers learn that circus and zoo life is hard on elephants; that Precious and Baba endure both physical and emotional duress when they are separated; that sanctuaries can help. And, of course, that elephants never forget. The skillful art shows elephants in various positions and from different vantage points and varies human skin tones. The ending is a heartwarming tribute to the depth of elephants’ bonds—inspired by the true story of Gypsy and Wanda, according to the author’s note.

A sweet and sensitive encouragement of wildlife conservation. (selected sources) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1960-8

Page Count: 37

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Chilling in the best ways.

CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors.

THE LEAF THIEF

A confused squirrel overreacts to the falling autumn leaves.

Relaxing on a tree branch, Squirrel admires the red, gold, and orange leaves. Suddenly Squirrel screams, “One of my leaves is…MISSING!” Searching for the leaf, Squirrel tells Bird, “Someone stole my leaf!” Spying Mouse sailing in a leaf boat, Squirrel asks if Mouse stole the leaf. Mouse calmly replies in the negative. Bird reminds Squirrel it’s “perfectly normal to lose a leaf or two at this time of year.” Next morning Squirrel panics again, shrieking, “MORE LEAVES HAVE BEEN STOLEN!” Noticing Woodpecker arranging colorful leaves, Squirrel queries, “Are those my leaves?” Woodpecker tells Squirrel, “No.” Again, Bird assures Squirrel that no one’s taking the leaves and that the same thing happened last year, then encourages Squirrel to relax. Too wired to relax despite some yoga and a bath, the next day Squirrel cries “DISASTER” at the sight of bare branches. Frantic now, Squirrel becomes suspicious upon discovering Bird decorating with multicolored leaves. Is Bird the culprit? In response, Bird shows Squirrel the real Leaf Thief: the wind. Squirrel’s wildly dramatic, misguided, and hyperpossessive reaction to a routine seasonal event becomes a rib-tickling farce through clever use of varying type sizes and weights emphasizing his absurd verbal pronouncements as well as exaggerated, comic facial expressions and body language. Bold colors, arresting perspectives, and intense close-ups enhance Squirrel’s histrionics. Endnotes explain the science behind the phenomenon.

A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-3520-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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