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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Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something...

FLIGHT SCHOOL

From the Flight School series

A small round penguin with lofty aspirations finds success of a sort in a sweet, if slight, appreciation of the resourcefulness of teachers.

The sign near a cluster of wooden pilings in the middle of the water reads “FLIGHT SCHOOL / WE TEACH BIRDS TO FLY.” “I was hatched to fly,” announces Penguin upon his arrival from the South Pole. “I have the soul of an eagle,” he assures the gently dubious Teacher. “Penguin and the other birdies practiced for weeks,” but he succeeds only in plunging into the ocean—not terribly gracefully. He is ready to give up when a solution devised by Teacher and Flamingo has Penguin flying, if only for a few moments, and his happiness at this one-time achievement is lasting. Judge’s edge-to-edge watercolor-and-pencil art is lively and amusing. Her various sea and shore birds—gulls, a pelican, a heron and a small owl among them—and their fledglings are just a little scruffy, and they are exaggeratedly, expressively funny in their anthropomorphic roles as teachers and students. Background shades of warm yellow, sea blue and green, and brown sand let the friendly, silly faces and bodies of the birds take center stage.

Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something so far out of reach. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-14424-8177-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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Charming Easter fun.

PETER EASTER FROG

You may know the Easter Bunny, but get ready to meet Peter Easter Frog!

Peter loves Easter, and he’s not going to let the fact that he’s a frog and not a bunny stop him, especially when he’s so good at hopping! He looks absolutely delighted to be hopping around delivering Easter eggs. As he hops along, so does a repeated refrain, which always begins with two words ending with “-ity” coupled with “Easter’s on its—” (“Squishity, squashity, Easter’s on its—”; “Yippity, yappity, Easter’s on its—”); each page turn playfully upends the expected conclusion of the line. Karas’ cheery art portrays a growing array of animals: a turtle decked out in lipstick and a spiffy Easter bonnet, a cow with flower choker necklace, and a sheepdog and a chipmunk sans finery. As Peter gives out colorful, patterned Easter eggs to the other animals, they are, at first, shocked to see an Easter frog but soon join him in his charitable mission to spread Easter cheer. The moment when the cow responds to the dog’s challenge that she is not a cow-bunny by pointing out its own breed as a “sheepdog” may elicit laughs, especially from adult readers. When the group finally meets the real Easter Bunny—hilariously, at the end of a dark tunnel—it seems that things may go awry, but all ends hoppily, happily, and inclusively. The text does not use dialogue tags, instead setting narration and dialogue in separate, distinctive typefaces; unfortunately, this design is not consistently applied, which may confuse readers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 26.8% of actual size.)

Charming Easter fun. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6489-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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