Imaginative—but lacking heart.

THE WRENCH

Bob—a cartoon character with a human body and a large, pink face that seems to merge a rabbit, a pig, and a badger—is repeatedly distracted from buying a wrench to fix his tricycle.

When a short bout of searching turns up no wrench, Bob goes to “Megamart, the ultra-giant, supersized megastore where you can find ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING.” There, Mr. Mart, a blue-faced, mustachioed figure in a cowboy hat, persuades Bob to buy an absurd contraption called a “fridge-hat” instead. When Bob shows off his purchase to friends Pedro and Lucien, they ridicule him. A third friend, Paulette—whose pink tail pokes out from a green dress—reminds Bob about his mission to buy a wrench. (Like Bob, his friends are brightly colored anthropomorphic creatures.) Twice more, Bob goes wrench shopping, and twice more, similar episodes ensue, as gullible Bob buys musical pajamas and then a screaming machine. Each time he is confronted with his mistake, Bob stuffs his new purchase into his closet. The punchline wraps up a simple, silly tale that warns against the dangers of sales persuasion and conspicuous consumption. The writing is made for reading aloud with different voices, and the silliness and repetition will keep the youngest viewers entertained. Unfortunately, each time Pedro, Lucien, and Paulette react to Bob’s foolish behavior, the creatures’ reactions are both unkind and gender-stereotyped, the two male-presenting characters jeering and the female-presenting one demonstrating practicality. The illustrations are colorful and comical, in an offbeat palette.

Imaginative—but lacking heart. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2449-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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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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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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