Comfortable.

READ REVIEW

BEAR LIKES JAM

In his third outing (Room for Bear, 2015; Bear Is Not Tired, 2016), Bear learns to share jam and eat his vegetables.

On a grocery outing with his duck family, Bear first tastes jam (a detail cleverly shown in an illustration before the title page). Bear loves jam so much he forgets to share, eats it at inappropriate times, and, worst of all, refuses to eat anything but jam. Mama Duck decrees no more jam until the vegetables are eaten. Bear goes to bed hungry and his “tummy growled so loudly he couldn’t sleep,” but he still refuses to eat anything but jam. Boy Duck and Girl Duck to the rescue! They invent games that coax Bear into inadvertently eating his vegetables, and contentment reigns again. Gavin’s tranquil watercolor illustrations, rendered in pastel washes, give the story an overall impression of serenity even when Bear is behaving badly. The illustrations are presented in a variety of formats—spot illustrations, double-page spreads, and single-page spreads that blend seamlessly and rarely fail to take advantage of the visual humor inherent in a family of small white ducks with one very large bear. The story’s lessons—share, and eat your vegetables—are delivered painlessly and good-humoredly, and Gavin’s bear and ducks are cute as buttons. (Although the ducks occasionally verge on too cute when they imitate Bear’s antics.) The front and back endpapers add nice details to the narrative.

Comfortable. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-55179-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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