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FIVE NICE MICE & THE GREAT CAR RACE

These winning mice easily take home the trophy.

The five titular nice (and cute-as-a-button) mice vie for a gigantic piece of cheese.

The title page introduces each nice mouse, taking care to note individual quirks: “Whisk has a funny little knot in his tail,” and Nibble “always wears one blue sock.” They are looking at an announcement about an upcoming car race, which is exciting enough, but best of all, the grand prize is a ginormous piece of cheese. First they contribute their ideas to the car’s design, set out to gather scrap materials and then, as a team, assemble their race car. Finally, the race is on, and the mice face stiff competition along with harrowing roadblocks—an inquisitive dog, a bouncing red ball, strutting pigeons and human pedestrians. Clever details abound amid shifting vantage points that are like well-executed camera shots; they alternate views between the mouse-level pictures and aerial views that show the racers’ positions and the surprised looks on the humans’ faces as they react to the sight of mice driving cars. When the five mice’s engine begins to fail and things look bleak, little Nibble brings out a big surprise. The illustrations are richly textured and saturated, the painterly approach both charming and well-suited to the characters and story. There’s also a fun-to-read map showing the race’s winding course.

These winning mice easily take home the trophy. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-988-8240-73-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: minedition

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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