Outdoor enthusiasts will celebrate this brave young heroine as she schools the town on acceptance.

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HATTIE & HUDSON

A lanky, little explorer paddles her canoe on a lake and inadvertently sings up a huge, green beast.

All the other boaters scatter in a panicked frenzy, but later that night, under a moonlit sky, Hattie McFadden returns to the middle of the still lake. Without the distraction of motor boats, the white redhead takes the time to befriend Hudson. The next day, the townsfolk meet to suggest ways to get rid of “the Deadly Beast.” Dismayed, Hattie thinks, “If only they knew him.” The two new friends put together a plan to convince the town of Hudson’s kindness. Hattie bravely finds her voice and makes an announcement to the town: “This lake is his home, and I think he deserves to stay. Once you get to know him, I’m sure you’ll agree.” The glory of lakeshore life is celebrated as idyllic, with lush forests and hills and cool blue water. An undercurrent of environmentalism is present in the symbolic canoe compared to motorboats, and the message of getting to know strangers is a timely one. The gouache illustrations are filled with details that bring light and life to the pages, from each water droplet to every rolled-up sleeve. Hudson, although enormous, is drawn with expressive eyes and a lovely green hue that reflects the stars in the sky, and Van Dusen expertly takes advantage of perspective and composition to make sure readers remember at all times exactly how huge Hudson is.

Outdoor enthusiasts will celebrate this brave young heroine as she schools the town on acceptance. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6545-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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A thoughtful, candid look at self-reflection.

THE BAD SEED

Sometimes this sunflower seed can be just plain rotten!

The book’s self-professed scoundrel opens with a warning. “I’m a bad seed. / A baaaaaaaaaaad seed.” Even other seeds whisper in agreement: that’s one bad seed. What makes this seed so bad? Well, he’s always late and lies often. He stares and glares and never listens. He cuts in line all the time and never washes his hands or feet. And he does other horrible things too bad to list. Young readers (and some older ones as well) will chuckle at the list of misdeeds, then perhaps wonder whether they’re guilty of such baaaaaaaaaaad behavior themselves, but John aims for more fruitful ground. What makes a seed go bad? A tragic back story provides at least one reason for the badness. When the rogue seed decides “to be happy” by doing good, it’s not so hard to cheer for him. Loudly. The change may seem abrupt, although there is a sense that being good takes time. Throughout the story, Oswald’s digital, watercolor-infused illustrations keep the focus exclusively on the titular bad seed, depicting the world around him hilariously reacting to his misbehavior and using close-ups—sometimes extreme ones—for comical effect. Small moments of goodness appear that much more profound as a result.

A thoughtful, candid look at self-reflection. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-246776-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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