DO YOU SPEAK FISH?

A STORY ABOUT COMMUNICATING AND UNDERSTANDING

A funny read-aloud with a great message.

A gregarious little boy is annoyed that the animals and insects he greets won’t speak to him in return.

When the unnamed boy, who presents Black, says hello to a fish, he is annoyed that it doesn’t respond. The boy calls the fish rude and walks away. He happens upon a lion. After he says hello and the lion doesn’t speak, the boy screams at the lion, who roars at him in turn. Next, he meets a bee who doesn’t speak and also doesn’t like being yelled at, so it buzzes and chases him. He continues on until he meets a tree who is fluent in Kid. The tree tells him that the animals can’t communicate with him because he doesn’t speak their languages and they don’t speak his. The boy thinks to wonder how he can understand the tree, and the tree informs him, “I learned to speak Kid from a frog.” The absurdity of the premise guarantees laughs from readers. They will enjoy watching the boy practice speaking with the animals in their languages, especially the lion, who can’t stop laughing (readers will find out why at the very end). The slick cartoon illustrations are vivid and eye-catching, the pacing of the page turns timed well for humor. The boy seems to have no teeth (a dramatic contrast to the lion’s dentition), which may be an additional point of humor for readers.

A funny read-aloud with a great message. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72821-922-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE SLEIGH!

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

THE BIG CHEESE

From the Food Group series

From curds to riches, from meltdown to uplift—this multicourse romp delivers.

A winning wheel of cheddar with braggadocio to match narrates a tale of comeuppance and redemption.

From humble beginnings among kitchen curds living “quiet lives of pasteurization,” the Big Cheese longs to be the best and builds success and renown based on proven skills and dependable results: “I stuck to the things I was good at.” When newcomer Wedge moves to the village of Curds-on-Whey, the Cheese’s star status wobbles and falls. Turns out that quiet, modest Wedge is also multitalented. At the annual Cheese-cathlon, Wedge bests six-time winner Cheese in every event, from the footrace and chess to hat making and bread buttering. A disappointed Cheese throws a full-blown tantrum before arriving at a moment of truth: Self-calming, conscious breathing permits deep relief that losing—even badly—does not result in disaster. A debrief with Wedge “that wasn’t all about me” leads to further realizations: Losing builds empathy for others; obsession with winning obscures “the joy of participating.” The chastened cheddar learns to reserve bragging for lifting up friends, because anyone can be the Big Cheese. More didactic and less pun-rich than previous entries in the Food Group series, this outing nevertheless couples a cheerful refrain with pithy life lessons that hit home. Oswald’s detailed, comical illustrations continue to provide laughs, including a spot with Cheese onstage doing a “CHED” talk.

From curds to riches, from meltdown to uplift—this multicourse romp delivers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063329508

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

Close Quickview