Adequate but unexceptional.

READ REVIEW

THE THREE LITTLE PIGS

Yet another retelling of the classic fairy tale, updated for inclusivity and suitable for the board-book set, if somewhat lacking in whimsy and magic.

The familiar fable of the three little pigs is retold in simple language. This go-round, one of the piglets is a she, offering girls a chance to place themselves in the narrative. For the record, she’s the one who builds her house of sticks, so she’s slightly less lazy than pig No. 1 but less practical and ambitious than pig No. 3. The only visual suggestions of her gender are the frilled top of her overalls and eyelashes, a feature the other two lack even though they are both mammals as well. The storytelling is bare-bones; youngsters won’t be overwhelmed by the amount of detail, but exposition is quite skimpy even so. As the story opens, for example, the pigs bid their “mommy pig” and “daddy pig” farewell: “The time had come for the three little pigs to leave home.” The statement begs to be followed with, “... to make their homes and seek their fortunes,” but caregivers will have to fill that in on their own. Although geared to the audience, the lack of detail diminishes the fairy-tale quality of the story. Even a “Once upon a time” would help immeasurably. The artwork is well-executed but static, only really popping when the Big, Bad Wolf huffs and puffs. The simultaneously publishing Pinocchio is even more drastically stripped-down.

Adequate but unexceptional. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4654-7848-1

Page Count: 30

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original...

A KISSING HAND FOR CHESTER RACCOON

From the Kissing Hand series

A sweetened, condensed version of the best-selling picture book, The Kissing Hand.

As in the original, Chester Raccoon is nervous about attending Owl’s night school (raccoons are nocturnal). His mom kisses him on the paw and reminds him, “With a Kissing Hand… / We’ll never be apart.” The text boils the story down to its key elements, causing this version to feel rushed. Gone is the list of fun things Chester will get to do at school. Fans of the original may be disappointed that this board edition uses a different illustrator. Gibson’s work is equally sentimental, but her renderings are stiff and flat in comparison to the watercolors of Harper and Leak. Very young readers will probably not understand that Owl’s tree, filled with opossums, a squirrel, a chipmunk and others, is supposed to be a school.

Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original shouldn’t look to this version as replacement for their page-worn copies. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-933718-77-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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