Overdone, even for a tall tale.

READ REVIEW

WALRUS IN THE BATHTUB

A family of four’s new house is perfect save for one feature.

It has everything they need: a big yard, a tree with a sea gulls’ nest in it, and an enormous bathtub. But there’s one problem: In that huge bathtub, there’s a walrus. And he doesn’t want to leave. He makes bathtub tidal waves, he floods the house, and he uses all the toothpaste. The family members do their best to convince the walrus to leave, and little readers will get a few good chuckles out of the increasingly absurd tactics. The text is conveyed almost entirely in list form, with occasional snippets of dialogue and arrows pointing to various pictorial elements when necessary. The “WORST things about having a walrus in the bathtub: 1) Dial-a-Clam deliveries 2) Pool parties 3) Walrus songs” leads naturally to “Things that are louder than walrus songs: 1) Nothing”; underscoring this is the walrus’s not-so-tuneful “AAAAHHHROOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHH!!!” The illustrations are suitably kinetic, milking the absurdity of a walrus in a bathtub for all it’s worth, and they add a narrative subtext, depicting one child’s evident delight in the presence of the family’s unintended roommate. Unfortunately, compositions are so busy, chock-full of silliness plus additional characters such as the family’s dog and the walrus’s visiting friends, that it may be hard for little readers to focus on that relationship. The family members all have light skin and straight hair that’s either black or brown.

Overdone, even for a tall tale. (Picture book. 3-4)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4101-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

There's not one decent insect leg to stand on here.

THE BUG NEXT DOOR

It's unfortunate that opposites attract in this dismal offering.

Little Speckled Bug meets his neighbor and immediately feels a connection to the female Bug Next Door, even though they express quite different interests. Little Speckled Bug wants to play boisterous games; the buggy diva's suggestions are stereotypically feminine in contrast. “What if we dressed up as flower fairies instead? We could put on long dresses and wear make up.” In an awkward sequence, the pair share hobbies, including collecting the appendages of their fellow insects (!), and a kiss. Little Speckled Bug's cheeks flush as he pines for his new love. The abrupt, didactic conclusion is both pretentious and perplexing: “But you see, in the blanket, just as in the rest of the world, there are lots of differences between girls and boys”—though other references have been made to the "blanket," its relationship to the book’s world is never explained. The mostly felted mixed-media spreads incorporate a hodgepodge of commonly found items, including sequins and postage stamps. Facial expressions are rigid, and the emotions portrayed inauthentic.

There's not one decent insect leg to stand on here. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7148-6356-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This story’s got a moral that’s actually true to life.

PIGS IN A PICKLE

Three pigs find themselves trying but not always succeeding in this story of perseverance.

They fall out of boats, spin out of control, and often fall down, but in the end, these “pigs in a pickle know what to do. / They try again—they carry through!” In a tale that combines aspects of “This Little Piggy” and “Humpty Dumpty,” Wilhelm’s rhyming text echoes the childhood classics. Impressively, the story conveys its message about perseverance without ending sappily with a success story. In Wilhelm’s take, when you give it your “best shot,” realistically, “sometimes it works… / …and sometimes it does not.” The piggy who falls off the merry-go-round gets back up and tries again—and again he falls off. What a lesson for little readers! Salcedo’s three pigs each have their own distinctive look: one with large glasses, the second with pigtails, and the third with a round tummy. Each illustration is filled with a lot of movement thanks to well-placed lines, swirls, and squiggles, a necessary inclusion given the copious stumbling, twirling, and falling. There is also a lovely level of detail, from the suits on the playing cards to the tiny hose and ladder on the toy fire truck, though this visual complexity gears this book to the older segment of the board-book audience.

This story’s got a moral that’s actually true to life. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7896-7

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more