Sweet depictions of reassurance and friendship.

READ REVIEW

WEASEL IS WORRIED

The anthropomorphic title character isolates himself to feel safe from the elements—until an unexpected visit from Mole.

Weasel’s friendly face, fluffy, rust-colored fur, and loose polka-dot necktie remove any prejudices some readers may have about his species. Indeed, he is innocently collecting fall leaves against a colorful, bucolic backdrop when “suddenly the weather changed.” The page turn shows, on the verso, two comical vignettes of Weasel trying to protect himself from a “nasty rain” by clamping a large leaf on his head and then falling “FLAT on his bottom” as a gust of wind hits him. Little viewers will giggle as Weasel tells the sky, “That’s ENOUGH of that nonsense!”—and is soon pelted with hail. They will also empathize with Weasel’s growing sense that he’s small and powerless. Weasel builds himself a snug, protective home, where he lives in isolation until, one day, he turns around to find Mole sitting on the blue sofa. The ensuing dialogue is first about Weasel’s insistence that his home is solely for safety and then about Mole’s insistence that there is plenty of fun to be had in the fortress. A particularly comical illustration shows the bespectacled Mole demonstrating his “scary face” to thwart foxes. Mole proceeds to turn Weasel’s concerns on their heads, demonstrating to Weasel—and readers—that “a different way of seeing things” can work wonders. A healthy range of vocabulary differentiates the two creatures’ divergent approaches to life.

Sweet depictions of reassurance and friendship. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-193-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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Good bedtime reading.

POLAR BEAR ISLAND

Only polar bears are allowed on Polar Bear Island, until Kirby, a friendly, creative penguin, arrives on the scene.

On the verso of the first double-page spread, large white lettering proclaims against an azure sky: “Polar Bear Island was peaceful and predictable. Parker, the mayor, planned to keep it that way.” Below, Parker—paint can in left paw—can be seen facing his sign: “Welcome to Polar Bear Island. No Others Allowed.” On the recto, Kirby floats into view on an ice floe, with hat, scarf, and overstuffed suitcase. When Kirby arrives, Parker grudgingly allows her an overnight stay. However, she soon proves her worth to the other bears; she has invented Flipper Slippers, which keep extremities warm and reverse from skates to snowshoes. Now Kirby is allowed to stay and help the bears make their own Flipper Slippers. When her family shows up with more inventions, Parker feels compelled to give them a week. (Presumably, the penguins have made the 12,430-mile-trip from the South Pole to the North Pole, characterized merely as “a long journey.”) A minor crisis permanently changes Parker’s attitudes about exclusivity. The text is accessible and good fun to read aloud. The weakness of the ostensible theme of granting welcome to newcomers lies in the fact that all the newcomers are immediately, obviously useful to the bears. The cartoonlike, scratchboard-ish graphics are lighthearted and full of anthropomorphic touches.

Good bedtime reading. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2870-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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