Lambelet’s luscious, cinematic artwork will transport readers.

READ REVIEW

THE TRAVELER'S GIFT

A STORY OF LOSS AND HOPE

A boy finds joy, loss, healing, and love in the power of storytelling.

In cap and suspenders, Liam waves from a dock as his father sets sail across the opening endpages. Reunited, the two embrace before the burly sailor spins tales of his adventures in front of a crackling fire, as mermaids, treasures, and shark-infested waters swirl to life. But when his father sets out again and doesn’t return, Liam’s world turns gray and stories lose their pull, until an old traveler arrives with a magic beard who is able to weave words into pictures. Together, the two journey across the world, and Liam learns to really look and listen, and when the time comes for him to tell a story, he finds his father in stories told, in adventures taken, and in the weaving of words and sharing of stories. Fanciful illustrations are meticulously drawn, and the artist uses geometric shapes stylized to appear sculpted, reminiscent of a stop-motion animated picture. The cool, bright color palette is used to great effect as all turns gray to depict grief and loss, with color returning in the traveler’s stories and in their journey together. Skilled compositional designs showcase the flowing nature of the tales at sea and the traveler’s beard’s ability to hold the memory of adventure and become a metaphor for journey and growth. Liam and his father present white; the traveler has brown skin; Liam’s 19th-century seaside town is largely white but has a few residents of color.

Lambelet’s luscious, cinematic artwork will transport readers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62414-765-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Looking for a spud-tacular read? Starch here.

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THE COUCH POTATO

Can a couch potato peel themself off their beloved, comfortable couch?

John and Oswald’s titular spud certainly finds it very hard to do so. Why should they leave their “comfy, cozy couch” when everything that’s needed is within reach? Their doodads and gadgets to amuse and entertain, their couch’s extendable gloved hands to grab food from the kitchen, and screens upon screens to watch their favorite TV shows (highlights: MadYam, Fries), play their favorite video games, and livestream their friends. Where’s the need to leave the living room? Then…“PEW-WWWWWWW”! The electricity goes out one day. Left without screens and gizmos, the couch potato decides to take dog Tater “for a walk…outside,” where the trees and birds and skies seem rich, “like a high-resolution 156-inch curved screen, but even more realistic.” The outdoor experience proves cathartic and freeing, away from those cords that bind, liberating enough to commit this couch potato to spending more time off the couch. Similar to The Bad Seed (2017), The Good Egg (2019), and The Cool Bean (2019) in small-scale scope and moral learning, this latest guidebook to life retains John’s attention to textual goodness, balancing good-humored laughs with a sincere conversational tone that immediately pulls readers in. Naturally, Oswald’s succinct artwork—loaded with genial spuds, metatextual nods, and cool aloofness—continues this loose series’ winsome spirit. No counterarguments here, couch potatoes. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 65.9% of actual size.)

Looking for a spud-tacular read? Starch here. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-295453-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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