Just doesn’t compare to Shelley Moore Thomas and Jennifer Plecas’ similarly themed Get Well, Good Knight (2002) or even to...

READ REVIEW

SICK DAY

From the I Like To Read series

A sick boy’s devoted friends try to help him feel better.

Dog lies on Boy’s feet to help him get warm, then shares his bone with him. (Boy eats his mom’s chicken soup instead.) Bird comes calling, but Dog tells him Boy is sick, and he flies off, returning with a slice of pizza to help him get well. (Boy doesn’t eat that either.) Feeling better the next day, Boy and Dog head to the tree house and find Bird sick (too much pizza). At this point, the minimalist story devolves even further, losing the slight humor of the first part. “Boy and Dog sit with Bird. // Then Bird is fine. / But Dog is sick.…Boy and Bird sit with Dog. // Then they nap. / Dog jumps up. ‘I am fine,’ he says.” Upon which, the three happily play together with a ball. Unlike its precursor, Boy, Bird, and Dog (2011), this one feels (and reads) like a Dick and Jane primer, stilted language, thin plot and all. McPhail’s ink-and-watercolor artwork depicts the three friends in the softly colored, rounded vignettes on each page that, along with the 64 simple words and short sentences, help those new to reading decode the words.

Just doesn’t compare to Shelley Moore Thomas and Jennifer Plecas’ similarly themed Get Well, Good Knight (2002) or even to the trio’s prior adventure. (Early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2424-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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Precious—but timely and comforting all the same.

WHILE WE CAN'T HUG

From the Hedgehog and Tortoise Story series

The two creatures who fulfilled each other’s yearning for physical contact in The Hug (2019) find alternative ways to connect in a time of social distancing.

Blushing and smiling and looking every bit as sweet as they did in their original meet-cute, Hedgehog and Tortoise respond to Owl’s reassurance that “there are lots of ways to show someone you love them” by standing on opposing pages and sending signals, letters, dances, air kisses, and songs across the gutter. Demonstrating their mutual love and friendship, they regard each other fondly across the gap through sun and storm, finally gesturing air hugs beneath a rainbow of colors and stars. “They could not touch. / They could not hug. // But they both knew / that they were loved.” In line with the minimalist narrative and illustrations there is no mention of the enforced separation’s cause nor, aside from the titular conjunction, any hint of its possible duration. Still, its core affirmation is delivered in a simple, direct, unmistakable way, and if the thematic connection with the previous outing seems made to order for a marketing opportunity, it does address a widespread emotional need in young (and maybe not so young) audiences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 78% of actual size.)

Precious—but timely and comforting all the same. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-5713-6558-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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DIRTBALL PETE

Visually, Dirtball Pete is a charmer—a begrimed lad with a thatch of unruly hair, a crooked smile and button eyes as black as tar. He wears his dirt well, and even when his mother scrubs him squeaky clean in preparation for a school recital he is still cherubic, though every reader will know it won’t take long for Pete to look like he was used as a chimney brush. Brennan’s text is likewise pleasing, with an idiosyncratic beat: “With one final tidying, then a big kiss, then a quick swipe of a tissue to remove the kiss, then one last smoothing of his hair…” But somewhere along the line the story gets left behind. Pete’s a dirtball, Pete gets cleaned to give his public presentation, Pete gets dirty but still gives his recital, Pete gets a big round of applause because he talks the loudest. Being loud doesn’t follow in any sense from his grunginess, nor does it add to Pete’s persona. Introduced so late in the proceedings, it’s like the author threw a little water on our hero, muddying his heart-robbing filthiness. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-375-83425-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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