Just another masterwork from the multiple Caldecott medalist, shimmering with light, life, and deep thoughts.

IN THE CITY

An ode to friendship on wings of rhyme. Also feathers.

Firmly clapping back at urbanites who regard pigeons as pests, Raschka offers avian flocks rendered with typically energetic brushwork in gemlike, often wildly fantastical hues, swirling lyrically around skyscrapers and apartment buildings, perching on ledges and stoplights, pecking beneath picnic tables, socializing in the park, or pairing off in flight to bill and coo. Though often parsed out to just a phrase or two per page, the accompanying verse likewise wings along, as a brown-skinned child, watching the birds “in their tumbling flocks / soaring past the courthouse clock,” wonders “where…friends come from.” This child then perches on the same park bench as a lighter-skinned child. Closer looks at the distinctive colors and shimmering highlights on the birds at her feet accompany further thoughts: “How do two friends find each other? / Why choose this one, not another?” But if, in the end, conclusions remain elusive (“I suppose it’s in the air. / All my answers are up there”), these two new friends, at least, are as close as the nearest touch or shared glance. Along with casting bright, joyful light on some ubiquitous yet often unappreciated natural wonders, this heady outing irresistibly invites young readers into a ruminative frame of mind. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8-by-21-inch double-page spreads viewed at 71% of actual size.)

Just another masterwork from the multiple Caldecott medalist, shimmering with light, life, and deep thoughts. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8627-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Richard Jackson/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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