Told only in animal dialect and sound effects but with brilliant visual details, this story will become a bathtime favorite.

READ REVIEW

OINK

Can four animals share a bathtub?

Not if the pig protagonist, who utters a satisfied “Oink!” upon spotting the empty, large, white, claw-foot tub, has anything to say about it. No sooner is the pig in the water than: “Knock! Knock!” A sheep in a frilly pink skirt enters: “Maaa?” Is this a polite request to enter the bath? The pig doesn’t answer but looks unhappy as the sheep climbs in and proceeds to splash. Another “Knock! Knock!” and a large, horned bovine wearing a shower cap and long yellow trunks appears. The bovine says “Moo?”; the sheep answers “Maaa!”; the pig just glowers. How could things get worse? Well, a donkey in another outlandish bathing costume shows up with a “Hee haw?” Soon the animal companions are talking up a storm, save for the poor pig—but in a completely wordless spread, the tables turn. With a few expressive pencil lines emanating from the water, Elliot finds a way for the pig to regain privacy. The surprised and then disgusted looks on the other animals’ faces, their accusatory animal-sound questions, and then their huffy departures tell the story perfectly. The soft pencil-and-watercolor drawings are masterful in their simple details, and kids will enjoy telling the tale themselves, intoning the animal sounds in different ways to heighten the drama of the story.

Told only in animal dialect and sound effects but with brilliant visual details, this story will become a bathtime favorite. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77657-214-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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A sweet cetacean story.

THE HEART OF A WHALE

The flora and fauna of the ocean respond to a lonely whale’s beautiful music by helping him find another whale.

“Whale’s song was so beautiful it could reach the farthest of faraways.” Over a double-page spread, a simply drawn white whale—detailed with a large eye, a small mouth and fins, and a small lavender heart—swims past a variety of pastel-hued sea denizens. The lyrical text is set in type that emulates hand-lettering. Watercolors are the appropriate choice for a tale that occurs in a sea full of creatures—with an occasional glimpse of land and sky as well as a cheerfully colored sailboat and lighthouse. Collage, pencil sketching, and washes produce a dreamlike effect that also feels sweetly humorous. A double-page spread of sea horses lounging atop spirited jellyfish is especially whimsical. Musical terms are cleverly used to describe the singing whale’s positive effects on others (“a cheerful symphony for a sad urchin”). After several pages of poetic lines about the talented singer, readers learn that his heart feels “empty.” The ocean carries his sighing wish across miles of lovingly rendered sea habitats until the solo becomes a duet. Although the flap copy speaks of friendship, even the youngest of readers will sense that this is a whale of a romance. Beneath its warmth is a poignant reminder of the loss to all if whale songs become history.

A sweet cetacean story. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984-83627-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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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