A jubilant, visually dramatic allegory.

READ REVIEW

FELIX AFTER THE RAIN

Unhappy Felix finds himself always carrying a heavy black suitcase.

He walks far, all the time toting this inhibiting weight. He doesn’t know exactly what is inside, but “something dark” or “something bothersome” creeps within after unhappy moments in Felix’s life. When Felix pauses his trek to take a nap, a young boy comes along and opens the suitcase. The sky turns gray and Felix sheds “tears that [run] down his cheeks like the rain.” But once the storm passes, Felix’s burden is no more. He revels in the world around him, giving out hugs to those he meets (with permission), and returns home “empty handed but with a heart full of happiness.” The scenery mirrors Felix’s emotional outlook: Black and gray surround him in the beginning and are released from the suitcase, but colors burst to life everywhere after the storm dissipates. Jogan’s illustrations are an organic mixture of swirls and many painterly textures. Each page turn yields a double-page spread, so the images are sweeping; this is appropriate, as the illustrations effectively carry the emotional resonance of the story while the succinct, translated Slovenian text supports them. This symbolic tale leaves a few gaps (is the child who opens the suitcase a younger Felix, hinted by their similar clothing?) but effectively communicates a moral of emotional honesty and freedom.

A jubilant, visually dramatic allegory. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-910328-58-3

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Tiny Owl

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

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. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A thoughtful, candid look at self-reflection.

THE BAD SEED

Sometimes this sunflower seed can be just plain rotten!

The book’s self-professed scoundrel opens with a warning. “I’m a bad seed. / A baaaaaaaaaaad seed.” Even other seeds whisper in agreement: that’s one bad seed. What makes this seed so bad? Well, he’s always late and lies often. He stares and glares and never listens. He cuts in line all the time and never washes his hands or feet. And he does other horrible things too bad to list. Young readers (and some older ones as well) will chuckle at the list of misdeeds, then perhaps wonder whether they’re guilty of such baaaaaaaaaaad behavior themselves, but John aims for more fruitful ground. What makes a seed go bad? A tragic back story provides at least one reason for the badness. When the rogue seed decides “to be happy” by doing good, it’s not so hard to cheer for him. Loudly. The change may seem abrupt, although there is a sense that being good takes time. Throughout the story, Oswald’s digital, watercolor-infused illustrations keep the focus exclusively on the titular bad seed, depicting the world around him hilariously reacting to his misbehavior and using close-ups—sometimes extreme ones—for comical effect. Small moments of goodness appear that much more profound as a result.

A thoughtful, candid look at self-reflection. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-246776-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more