Could have been a slick pastiche…given a spell check run and better art and writing.

HAROLD'S TREASURE HUNT

Harold takes his purple crayon on a newly minted adventure, meeting pirates and lots of sea life.

Designed to mimic the look and feel of Johnson’s original series, this anonymously composed and illustrated spinoff (title-page credit notwithstanding) follows the pajama-clad lad on a nighttime outing onto a pirate ship, off a plank at sword point, into and out of the ocean, and finally through a cave where, once he draws a window “that the sun shined through big and bright,” he finds “the best treasure ever” in his own bedroom toy box. Along the way he encounters a mermaid (discreetly clad in a camisole) but passes by because he doesn’t want to “interupt” [sic] her and an octopus who is no help with directions because “they didn’t see eye to eye,” whatever that means. In the purple-dominated illustrations the pirate and the mermaid are just outlines, and so take on the color of the background, but Harold’s exposed hands and round head have been darkened just enough to create a whiff of racial ambiguity. This has absolutely none of the magic of the 1955 classic, and it’s hard not to wonder what Johnson might make of it; the Ruth Krauss Foundation holds the copyright, but the identities of the actual author and illustrator are carefully concealed.

Could have been a slick pastiche…given a spell check run and better art and writing. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-265531-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Animated and educational.

I'M A HARE, SO THERE!

A hare and a ground squirrel banter about the differences between related animals that are often confused for one another.

Jack is “no Flopsy, Mopsy, or Cottontail,” but a “H-A-R-E, hare!” Like sheep and goats, or turtles and tortoises, rabbits and hares may look similar, but hares are bigger, their fur changes color in the winter, and they are born with their eyes wide open. As the ground squirrel (not to be mistaken for a chipmunk (even though Jack cheekily calls it “Chippie”) and Jack engage in playful discussion about animals, a sneaky coyote prowls after them through the Sonoran Desert. This picture book conveys the full narrative in spirited, speech-bubbled dialogue set on expressive illustrations of talking animals. Dark outlines around the characters make their shapes pop against the softly blended colors of the desert backgrounds. Snappy back-and-forth paired with repetition and occasional rhyme enhances the story’s appeal as a read-aloud. As the story progresses, the colors of the sky shift from dawn to dusk, providing subtle, visual bookends for the narrative. One page of backmatter offers a quick guide to eight easily confused pairs, and a second turns a subsequent exploration of the book into a seek-and-find of 15 creatures (and one dessert) hidden in the desert. Unfortunately, while most of the creatures from the seek-and-find appear in poses that match the illustrations in the challenge, not all of them are consistently represented. (This book was reviewed digitally with 7-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 53.3% of actual size.)

Animated and educational. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-12506-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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