This there-and-back-again tale is surely worth the ride.

HAMISH TAKES THE TRAIN

Absence makes the heart grow fonder in this affectionate story of two best friends.

Hamish, an affable brown bear, and his friend Noreen, a white goose, live together in a cozy country cottage and love to watch the trains go by. Eager to ride a train and see the city, Hamish sets out while Noreen is content to stay home. When Hamish meets Christov, a human construction worker too sick to work the crane, Hamish enthusiastically offers to do so. He also learns to navigate the city and makes friends, but all the while he misses Noreen. When Christov tells Hamish, “I miss somebody, too…but he’s thousands of miles away,” Hamish returns to his friend, though he tells Noreen that he will continue to work in the city during the week. Hamish, who takes the furry, ursine version of a hero’s journey, is an endearing character; he has a friendly, curious nature, and his reunion with Noreen is a triumphant, warmhearted one. The illustrations effectively juxtapose Hamish’s pastoral cottage life, warm greens taking center stage, with the busy, bustling city in which the greens make way for a darker blue-gray and brick reds. Most of the townspeople present white, but Christov and a few others are slightly darker-skinned. The circumstances that separate Christov from his loved one go unexplored but open up possibilities for conversation.

This there-and-back-again tale is surely worth the ride. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1659-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Chilling in the best ways.

CREEPY CRAYON!

From the Creepy Tales! series

When a young rabbit who’s struggling in school finds a helpful crayon, everything is suddenly perfect—until it isn’t.

Jasper is flunking everything except art and is desperate for help when he finds the crayon. “Purple. Pointy…perfect”—and alive. When Jasper watches TV instead of studying, he misspells every word on his spelling test, but the crayon seems to know the answers, and when he uses the crayon to write, he can spell them all. When he faces a math quiz after skipping his homework, the crayon aces it for him. Jasper is only a little creeped out until the crayon changes his art—the one area where Jasper excels—into something better. As guilt-ridden Jasper receives accolade after accolade for grades and work that aren’t his, the crayon becomes more and more possessive of Jasper’s attention and affection, and it is only when Jasper cannot take it anymore that he discovers just what he’s gotten himself into. Reynolds’ text might as well be a Rod Serling monologue for its perfectly paced foreboding and unsettling tension, both gentled by lightly ominous humor. Brown goes all in to match with a grayscale palette for everything but the purple crayon—a callback to black-and-white sci-fi thrillers as much as a visual cue for nascent horror readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Chilling in the best ways. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6588-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors.

THE LEAF THIEF

A confused squirrel overreacts to the falling autumn leaves.

Relaxing on a tree branch, Squirrel admires the red, gold, and orange leaves. Suddenly Squirrel screams, “One of my leaves is…MISSING!” Searching for the leaf, Squirrel tells Bird, “Someone stole my leaf!” Spying Mouse sailing in a leaf boat, Squirrel asks if Mouse stole the leaf. Mouse calmly replies in the negative. Bird reminds Squirrel it’s “perfectly normal to lose a leaf or two at this time of year.” Next morning Squirrel panics again, shrieking, “MORE LEAVES HAVE BEEN STOLEN!” Noticing Woodpecker arranging colorful leaves, Squirrel queries, “Are those my leaves?” Woodpecker tells Squirrel, “No.” Again, Bird assures Squirrel that no one’s taking the leaves and that the same thing happened last year, then encourages Squirrel to relax. Too wired to relax despite some yoga and a bath, the next day Squirrel cries “DISASTER” at the sight of bare branches. Frantic now, Squirrel becomes suspicious upon discovering Bird decorating with multicolored leaves. Is Bird the culprit? In response, Bird shows Squirrel the real Leaf Thief: the wind. Squirrel’s wildly dramatic, misguided, and hyperpossessive reaction to a routine seasonal event becomes a rib-tickling farce through clever use of varying type sizes and weights emphasizing his absurd verbal pronouncements as well as exaggerated, comic facial expressions and body language. Bold colors, arresting perspectives, and intense close-ups enhance Squirrel’s histrionics. Endnotes explain the science behind the phenomenon.

A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-3520-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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