A cat-and-mouse game to be laughed at and reread.

MAX THE BRAVE

The time-worn scenario in which mouse outwits cat gets a fresh new spin.

Max, a brave, fearless kitten who prefers a superhero cape to cutesy bows, chases mice. There’s just one little problem: he doesn’t know what a mouse looks like. Going in search of one, Max encounters various unfamiliar creatures and asks who they are; each identifies itself in turn and reports on the real mouse’s whereabouts close at hand. When Max eventually meets up with Mouse, he naturally doesn’t recognize it, making it easy for the tiny would-be prey to flummox his nemesis completely by claiming to be Monster—and pointing the way to a sleeping “mouse” nearby who—surprise!—turns out to be the real monster. The narrator’s voice, expertly pulled off with dry British wit, and the childlike, quirky illustrations are the real humorous draws here. Kids will chuckle at Max’s bravado, the mouse’s blithe deception, and the intrepid hero’s antics battling the laughable monster. The short sentences move the pace along at a steady clip; the artwork, rendered mostly in black but with some splashes of bold color, is set against bright pastel-hued pages with sparse background details, keeping readers tightly focused on the action and growing tension. Both the ending and Max’s realization that bravery is only occasionally necessary are comically satisfying.

A cat-and-mouse game to be laughed at and reread. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4926-1651-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Animated and educational.

I'M A HARE, SO THERE!

A hare and a ground squirrel banter about the differences between related animals that are often confused for one another.

Jack is “no Flopsy, Mopsy, or Cottontail,” but a “H-A-R-E, hare!” Like sheep and goats, or turtles and tortoises, rabbits and hares may look similar, but hares are bigger, their fur changes color in the winter, and they are born with their eyes wide open. As the ground squirrel (not to be mistaken for a chipmunk (even though Jack cheekily calls it “Chippie”) and Jack engage in playful discussion about animals, a sneaky coyote prowls after them through the Sonoran Desert. This picture book conveys the full narrative in spirited, speech-bubbled dialogue set on expressive illustrations of talking animals. Dark outlines around the characters make their shapes pop against the softly blended colors of the desert backgrounds. Snappy back-and-forth paired with repetition and occasional rhyme enhances the story’s appeal as a read-aloud. As the story progresses, the colors of the sky shift from dawn to dusk, providing subtle, visual bookends for the narrative. One page of backmatter offers a quick guide to eight easily confused pairs, and a second turns a subsequent exploration of the book into a seek-and-find of 15 creatures (and one dessert) hidden in the desert. Unfortunately, while most of the creatures from the seek-and-find appear in poses that match the illustrations in the challenge, not all of them are consistently represented. (This book was reviewed digitally with 7-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 53.3% of actual size.)

Animated and educational. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-12506-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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