Friendships do indeed come in all shapes and sizes.

BUTTERCUP THE BIGFOOT

A youngster with a penchant for howling finds the perfect companion.

Willa Cathcart Wilmerding is bold and clever. She climbs supertall trees, befriends arachnids, and can even spell the word “H-E-L-I-C-O-P-T-E-R.” But every Friday night, Willa climbs to the roof of her house and howls at the moon. It doesn’t have anything to do with werewolves—she just enjoys howling. (The howls tumble and stretch across the pages as she bellows.) When her mom admonishes her, Willa decides to run away to the mountains where she can howl in peace. However, the mountains are also where Bigfoot lives. And Bigfoot likes to howl just as much as Willa. (This particular version is shaggy, pink, and female.) After a bit of a standoff, the two become fast friends. Willa decides to name her new friend Buttercup. But when Willa’s mom comes on a helicopter and tells her she misses her, sadly the pair is separated. The convenient wrap-up involves the woolly creature’s arrival in the city, where she joins Willa’s life. Everything seems a bit off-kilter (why does Willa howl? Why is her skin tinted blue, with schoolmates having a variety of normal and outlandish tones?), but the romp skims along the surface to simply tell a quirky story of friendship. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 36.5% of actual size.)

Friendships do indeed come in all shapes and sizes. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20934-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the...

ROBOT, GO BOT!

In this deceptively spare, very beginning reader, a girl assembles a robot and then treats it like a slave until it goes on strike.

Having put the robot together from a jumble of loose parts, the budding engineer issues an increasingly peremptory series of rhymed orders— “Throw, Bot. / Row, Bot”—that turn from playful activities like chasing bubbles in the yard to tasks like hoeing the garden, mowing the lawn and towing her around in a wagon. Jung crafts a robot with riveted edges, big googly eyes and a smile that turns down in stages to a scowl as the work is piled on. At last, the exhausted robot plops itself down, then in response to its tormentor’s angry “Don’t say no, Bot!” stomps off in a huff. In one to four spacious, sequential panels per spread, Jung develops both the plotline and the emotional conflict using smoothly modeled cartoon figures against monochromatic or minimally detailed backgrounds. The child’s commands, confined in small dialogue balloons, are rhymed until her repentant “Come on home, Bot” breaks the pattern but leads to a more equitable division of labor at the end.

A straightforward tale of conflict and reconciliation for newly emergent readers? Not exactly, which raises it above the rest. (Easy reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87083-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.

THE THANKFUL BOOK

Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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