Of more lasting interest to scholars than children, this genial pet-shop visit provides a tantalizing glimpse into a...


Almost 25 years after the death of the great Dr. Seuss, a new book hits the market.

“We want a pet. / We want a pet. / What kind of pet / should we get?” So begins the narrator and his sister’s visit to a pet store, where they find themselves torn among a bevy of cute, furry creatures including cats, dogs, rabbits, and fish, as well as some “new things.” As presented in the lengthy publisher’s note that follows the story, this newly unearthed picture book likely dates to the late 1950s or early ’60s and has been reconstructed from finished art and multiple iterations of draft revisions. The result is a far more satisfying experience than such other posthumous Seuss publications as Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories (2014) and The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories (2011), which paired more or less finished stories with a few pieces of art. This new-old book presents a complete storyline with a pleasing balance of text and art featuring, on average, one quatrain per page. Unfortunately, it still has a fairly unfinished feel. It’s hard to imagine that the notoriously finicky—admirably so—author would have been entirely happy with the occasionally lackluster and stumbling verse. Moreover, while the illustrations demonstrate an intensifying looniness, progressing from cats and dogs to Seuss’ trademark, unidentifiable rubber-limbed, mop-topped creatures, the text does not keep pace. The “yent” and the “fast kind of thing / who would fly round my head / in a ring on a string” the brother considers feel like first steps toward zaniness rather than a finished artistic vision. The concluding note likewise suffers from a lack of unity, offering an earnest exhortation to eschew pet shops for shelter adoption, a survey of the dogs in Theodor Geisel’s life, and the process art director Cathy Goldsmith followed in turning the newfound manuscript into a book.

Of more lasting interest to scholars than children, this genial pet-shop visit provides a tantalizing glimpse into a master’s artistic process. (Picture book. 3 & up)

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-52426-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.


A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Certain to steal hearts.


In this follow-up to 2020’s The One and Only Bob, Ruby the elephant is still living at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary.

She’s apprehensive about her Tuskday, a rite of passage for young elephants when she’ll give a speech in front of the rest of the herd. Luckily, she can confide in her Uncle Ivan, who is next door in Gorilla World, and Uncle Bob, the dog who lives nearby with human friend Julia. Ruby was born in an unspecified part of Africa, later ending up on display in the mall, where she met Ivan, Bob, and Julia. The unexpected arrival of someone from Ruby’s past life on the savanna revives memories both warmly nostalgic and deeply traumatic. An elephant glossary and Castelao’s charming, illustrated guide to elephant body language help immerse readers in Ruby’s world. Goofy, playful, and mischievous Ruby is fully dimensional, as she has shown her bravery during the many hardships of her young life. Applegate deftly tempers themes of grief and loss with compassion and humor as Ruby finds her place in the herd. The author’s note touches on climate change, the illegal ivory trade, and conservation efforts, but the highly emotive framing of the story through the memories of a bewildered baby elephant emphasizes the impact of lines such as “ ‘in Africa,’ I say softly, ‘there were bad people,’ ” without offering readers a nuanced understanding of the broader context that drives poaching.

Certain to steal hearts. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780063080089

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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