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From the Pout-Pout Fish series

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

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 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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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

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Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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