An undistinguished addition to the infuriatingly overstuffed shelves of anger-management treatises.

THE POUT-POUT FISH AND THE MAD, MAD DAY

From the Pout-Pout Fish series

Pout-Pout goes off the deep end.

Plainly afflicted with anger issues, Mr. Fish leverages a broken knickknack, difficulty finding glue, and the mild reactions of his neighbors to his plight into a towering, out-of-control tantrum. Mrs. Squid offers a tried-and-true (though, at least for a fish, physically impossible) counterstrategy: “To get started, simply breathe. / Then slowly count from one to ten / To counteract the seethe.” Miss Shimmer, another fish, suggests using his words to talk out his feelings…which he does (though only in the pictures, as Diesen declines to use her words to describe what he actually says). Finally, “with words and self-compassion / I bring anger to a stop,” and once he’s gotten his “grrrrr” out, the glue even turns up so that in no time fish and fracture are both “good as new.” Unlike the “seethe” in Molly Bang’s When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry… (1999) or Polly Dunbar’s Red Red Red (2020), the rage here comes across as manufactured rather than genuine—and the coping techniques are more described in general terms than actually demonstrated. Hanna’s cartoon cast of fancifully colored deep-sea denizens is as googly-eyed as ever. He adds some amusing details, as with the labels on Mr. Fish’s storage bins (“Might Need Someday” and “Not Sure will look later”), but the souvenir from “Machoo Poochy” is an unfortunate choice. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

An undistinguished addition to the infuriatingly overstuffed shelves of anger-management treatises. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-30935-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

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. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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