Animals so familiar and often so beloved to children start and end their conversation in bewilderment, which may lead to the...

READ REVIEW

HORSE MEETS DOG

An interspecies encounter confuses two four-legged creatures.

Dog meets Horse and extols dogginess. Horse, in return, applauds horsiness. Dog likes to play fetch with a ball, while Horse loves to groom its mane. Neither can grasp that the other is a member of a different species. Horse expresses confusion at Dog’s small stature, and Dog, in turn, cannot understand how Horse can be so tall. They butt heads in their shared state of confusion, sure to increase exponentially when, on the final two pages, Bird flies into the picture. Kalan tells his little tale entirely in speech bubbles, with uppercase type used to express the animals’ raised voices. Miller’s illustrations are executed in pen and ink and “digital hocus-pocus.” They portray critters with sharp angles and exaggerated heads against a green lower background (for grass) and a blue upper background (for sky). Horse is gray and Dog is yellow; both are outlined in black with very big eyes. Some humorous moments grace the story, as when Horse tries to feed “Tiny Baby” Dog with a hay-filled bottle and gifts him with a size-appropriate saddle. However, an ending with mutual understanding and a blossoming friendship is absent.

Animals so familiar and often so beloved to children start and end their conversation in bewilderment, which may lead to the same feeling among listeners. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279110-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sweet cetacean story.

THE HEART OF A WHALE

The flora and fauna of the ocean respond to a lonely whale’s beautiful music by helping him find another whale.

“Whale’s song was so beautiful it could reach the farthest of faraways.” Over a double-page spread, a simply drawn white whale—detailed with a large eye, a small mouth and fins, and a small lavender heart—swims past a variety of pastel-hued sea denizens. The lyrical text is set in type that emulates hand-lettering. Watercolors are the appropriate choice for a tale that occurs in a sea full of creatures—with an occasional glimpse of land and sky as well as a cheerfully colored sailboat and lighthouse. Collage, pencil sketching, and washes produce a dreamlike effect that also feels sweetly humorous. A double-page spread of sea horses lounging atop spirited jellyfish is especially whimsical. Musical terms are cleverly used to describe the singing whale’s positive effects on others (“a cheerful symphony for a sad urchin”). After several pages of poetic lines about the talented singer, readers learn that his heart feels “empty.” The ocean carries his sighing wish across miles of lovingly rendered sea habitats until the solo becomes a duet. Although the flap copy speaks of friendship, even the youngest of readers will sense that this is a whale of a romance. Beneath its warmth is a poignant reminder of the loss to all if whale songs become history.

A sweet cetacean story. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984-83627-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more