In four short chapters, Elliott (An Alphabet of Rotten Kids, 1991) has created a breezy summertime read in which a group of friends form a club. It’s a hot summer day when Leo and Marcus decide to create a club with Miranda and Phoebe. The four youngsters debate amongst themselves, playfully bandying about names for the club such as “Doodles” and “Piñatas” until finally settling on “The Cool Crazy Crickets.” But now the question arises of where the club will reside. What’s a club without a clubhouse? After some searching they tape together two refrigerator boxes, each youngster contributing to the overall aesthetics of the hideout. As the blithesome tale proceeds, the group decides on their mascot—Noodles, the pet dog that scampers through the story—and, lastly, just what kind of club they are. This quandary proves to be the most irksome, but finally, as three of them are just about to abandon the clubhouse, Leo has a brilliant solution dubbing them the “F.F.L.” club: Friends For Life. Meisel’s (The Tortoise and the Hare, 1998, etc.) artwork is active and rollicking, depicting a multicultural cast of characters in flushed watercolors outlined in ink. Bringing to light carefree summer days and the intimacy of hideouts with good friends, Elliott highlights the benefits of working as a group and the rewards of compromise. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0601-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000


From the Elephant & Piggie series

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

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014


Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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