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

READ REVIEW

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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Good bedtime reading.

POLAR BEAR ISLAND

Only polar bears are allowed on Polar Bear Island, until Kirby, a friendly, creative penguin, arrives on the scene.

On the verso of the first double-page spread, large white lettering proclaims against an azure sky: “Polar Bear Island was peaceful and predictable. Parker, the mayor, planned to keep it that way.” Below, Parker—paint can in left paw—can be seen facing his sign: “Welcome to Polar Bear Island. No Others Allowed.” On the recto, Kirby floats into view on an ice floe, with hat, scarf, and overstuffed suitcase. When Kirby arrives, Parker grudgingly allows her an overnight stay. However, she soon proves her worth to the other bears; she has invented Flipper Slippers, which keep extremities warm and reverse from skates to snowshoes. Now Kirby is allowed to stay and help the bears make their own Flipper Slippers. When her family shows up with more inventions, Parker feels compelled to give them a week. (Presumably, the penguins have made the 12,430-mile-trip from the South Pole to the North Pole, characterized merely as “a long journey.”) A minor crisis permanently changes Parker’s attitudes about exclusivity. The text is accessible and good fun to read aloud. The weakness of the ostensible theme of granting welcome to newcomers lies in the fact that all the newcomers are immediately, obviously useful to the bears. The cartoonlike, scratchboard-ish graphics are lighthearted and full of anthropomorphic touches.

Good bedtime reading. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2870-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard.

THE WIND PLAYS TRICKS

When a fierce wind descends on the barnyard, the animals hear some odd noises…and they’re coming from their own mouths.

The sudden wind unsettles all the animals on the farm just when they should be getting ready for sleep. Instead, they anxiously “cheep” and “cluck” and “oink” and “quack” and “moooo.” They shift nervously, pull together, and make all sorts of noises. All except Turtle, who tucks into his shell under an old log and sleeps. In the morning, though, the animals get a surprise. Pig says, “Cluck”; the Little Chicks say, “Neigh”; Horse crows, “Cock-a-doodle-doo.” How will they get their proper sounds back? Turtle has an idea, and he enjoys the process so much that he decides to open his mouth the next time the wind plays tricks at the farm: Perhaps he’ll catch a sound all his own. Chua’s cartoon barnyard is bright, and her animals, expressive, their faces and body language slightly anthropomorphized. The edges of the figures sometimes betray their digital origins. Though the tale is humorous and will give lots of opportunity for practicing animal sounds, the audience is hard to pin down, as the young children sure to enjoy mooing and clucking may not have the patience to sit through the somewhat lengthy text.

For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8735-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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