MOLLY AND MAE

A FRIENDSHIP JOURNEY

A friendship is formed, nearly lost, and re-established on a long train journey.

When blonde Molly and brunette Mae, both white, meet on the platform of a railroad station, they immediately connect. They play hide-and-seek, blow bubbles, and dance. When they board the train, they continue to play, sometimes getting rambunctious and annoying other passengers. All that closeness inevitably leads to conflict, and they turn away from each other as the train zooms through the timeless, vast, rural countryside. They cautiously restart the friendly atmosphere and enjoy the remainder of the trip together. Through all the action the girls’ moms (also both white) are vague and passive, barely visible. Energetic language in the form of clipped, action-filled sentences announce the children’s activities, and Parker further enhances the simple tale with lovely descriptions of the sights outside the train’s windows. The inventive format uses railway-signage iconography to situate readers as the book progresses, beginning on the platform of their starting point. There's a timetable of the girls’ games until boarding, and their argument is denoted as a signal failure. The illustrations employ windows and bridges—literal and figurative—as visual metaphors, keeping a comfortable rhythm until the girls reach their unnamed city destination. Blackwood’s softly hued illustrations, outlined in feathery, light-brown lines, fully illuminate the events with details only suggested in the text. Molly and Mae display every emotion with subtle changes of expression and body language.

Lively and lovely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-328-71543-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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WE ARE IN A BOOK!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Stalwart friends Piggie and Gerald the elephant push the metafictive envelope in a big way when they realize that "someone is looking at us." Is it a monster? worries Gerald. "No," replies the squinting Piggie. "It is... / a reader! / A reader is reading us!" How? wonders Gerald. Piggie drapes herself on a word bubble to demonstrate: "We are in a book!" "THAT IS SO COOL!" Joy leads to a little bit of clever practical joking—Piggie figures out how to make the readers say "banana" out loud, and hilarity ensues—which gives way to existential angst: "The book ends?!" exclaims an appalled Gerald. Emergent readers just beginning to grapple one-on-one with the rules of the printed codex will find the friends' antics both funny and provocative: Just who is in control here, anyway? As always, Willems displays his customary control of both body language and pacing even as he challenges his readers to engage with his characters and the physicality of their book . The friends' solution to the book's imminent end? "Hello. Will you please read us again?" You bet. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3308-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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