UH-OH OCTOPUS!

This Dutch import’s fatuous ending falls short, but the illustrations are worth the time spent appreciating them. (Picture...

A small yellow octopus is nonplussed to return home from his daily swim to find someone else’s tale protruding from his home.

The soft and expressive illustrations done in acrylic and oil pastels by van Hout (Surprise, 2014, etc.) are the highlight of what could have been a noteworthy story about the pitfalls of jumping to conclusions. Flitting among his concerned friends, an endearingly expressive octopus searches for a solution to the very big intruder stuck in his doorway. The fishy suggestions run the gamut from “Chase him away!” to “Declare war on him.” As the story unfolds, the problem of what to do with the giant tail sticking out of Octopus’ home involves every sea creature in the neighborhood. After much deliberation, the little octopus hears whispered advice in the depths around him. “What would you do?” The sea seems to be urging him to listen to his intuition—which he does to his ultimate delight. Van Lieshout and van Os explore the extreme reactions fear and uncertainty can elicit. As is so often the case, a simple question could have prevented the escalating misunderstanding and turmoil. What makes the resolution unsatisfactory is that an entire scene seems to be missing—the reveal. One minute the friends struggle to pull out the mysterious tale à la “The Enormous Turnip,” and the next, there’s a smiling mermaid holding the besotted octopus. “ ‘Oh,’ Octopus blushed. ‘If I’d only known you were a lady! That’s different!’ ”

This Dutch import’s fatuous ending falls short, but the illustrations are worth the time spent appreciating them. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-9359-5439-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lemniscaat USA

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE SLEIGH!

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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