Sweet as, well, honey, if a bit disingenuous.

READ REVIEW

HONEY

A young bear wakes from hibernation with just one thought in mind: honey.

He’s hungry—it’s been months since he’s had any—and his surroundings conspire to remind him of honey: the warm, golden light of the sun; the clear, flowing water of a nearby stream; the delicious scent of a blossoming fruit tree. He’s not yet 2, and with the persistence of a toddler he returns over and over to the hollow tree where a bee colony lives only to find that it’s “too soon for honey.” Framed, energetic watercolors show him making do, finding nourishment in grasses, pine cones, and berries as the spring turns to summer. But he keeps returning to the hive only to find that it’s still “too soon” and even earning himself a sting on the snoot. “ ‘Ouch!’ (Busy bees don’t like to be bothered.)” Stein’s figures are gestural, loose, simple lines delineating his protagonist, whose round head and simplified body will foster an easy relationship with young readers. Eventually the bear loses himself in the delights of summer before a buzz reminds him and he is finally able to enjoy the “warm, golden, sweet, clear, slowly flowing, spicy, aromatic, sparkling with sunlight—‘Honey!’ ” Stein appropriately sidesteps the all-too-frequent mistake of depicting the hive as an external, hanging globe—but he also elides the near-total destruction a real bear would likely wreak upon the tree in pursuit of the honey.

Sweet as, well, honey, if a bit disingenuous. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3786-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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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