Weinstone, a former punk rocker and founder of the preschool music program Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals, has...

ALL MY FRIENDS ARE FAST ASLEEP

A little black boy who has trouble falling asleep decides to find out how other animal friends get comfortable.

He leaves his rumpled bed and ventures out to discover that: a bat sleeps upside down in a cave, a horse dozes standing up, a whale slumbers on the gently rolling waves, a lark beds down in a nest, the mole snuggles in a hole, a frog stays on a log, a seal reclines on the rocks, and more. Yet all of these positions and places are inappropriate for a little boy. So back in bed and tuckered out from exploring, the boy finally nods off. Le Huche’s flat, boldly hued illustrations move the boy from his moonlit, dark azure bedroom filled with toys, books, his art, stuffed animals, and musical instruments through his nighttime journey, which is rendered in the opaque blues and greens of darkness. Looking closely, readers can see that this boy has not gone all that far, as the animals he peeks in on are all counterparts of the familiar animal characters in his room. The rhyming text is written as a song with a repetitive refrain in which the child imagines playing the part of the various creatures (“A whale I’ll be, I say to me, / but still I cannot sleep”) before he mentally returns to his bedroom, now awash in the purple hue of deep sleep. An addendum includes lyrics with guitar chords.

Weinstone, a former punk rocker and founder of the preschool music program Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals, has created a soothing piece for little bedtime resisters. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-30535-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Charming Easter fun.

PETER EASTER FROG

You may know the Easter Bunny, but get ready to meet Peter Easter Frog!

Peter loves Easter, and he’s not going to let the fact that he’s a frog and not a bunny stop him, especially when he’s so good at hopping! He looks absolutely delighted to be hopping around delivering Easter eggs. As he hops along, so does a repeated refrain, which always begins with two words ending with “-ity” coupled with “Easter’s on its—” (“Squishity, squashity, Easter’s on its—”; “Yippity, yappity, Easter’s on its—”); each page turn playfully upends the expected conclusion of the line. Karas’ cheery art portrays a growing array of animals: a turtle decked out in lipstick and a spiffy Easter bonnet, a cow with flower choker necklace, and a sheepdog and a chipmunk sans finery. As Peter gives out colorful, patterned Easter eggs to the other animals, they are, at first, shocked to see an Easter frog but soon join him in his charitable mission to spread Easter cheer. The moment when the cow responds to the dog’s challenge that she is not a cow-bunny by pointing out its own breed as a “sheepdog” may elicit laughs, especially from adult readers. When the group finally meets the real Easter Bunny—hilariously, at the end of a dark tunnel—it seems that things may go awry, but all ends hoppily, happily, and inclusively. The text does not use dialogue tags, instead setting narration and dialogue in separate, distinctive typefaces; unfortunately, this design is not consistently applied, which may confuse readers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 26.8% of actual size.)

Charming Easter fun. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6489-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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