Yawn. Skip the text and stick with the illustrations—the result is more entertaining.



A slim, didactic text is somewhat redeemed by lively, inventive illustrations.

Stella and Sidney are twins and playmates whose momentary tussle over a bouncy ball leads to a surprising dead-on blow to the full moon in the sky and the children’s search for a replacement for the moon. Each spread is filled with Yarlett’s intriguing digital art, with small details, hints of collage, some hand-lettering throughout and plenty of kinetic perspectives. A double gatefold (Sidney and Stella’s front door) opens to a crowded street scene where the suddenly absent moon is big news, with missing posters, vendors with moon balloons and bewildered astronauts among the multitudes. Weaknesses in the textual narrative seem like the result of trying to do too many things. The hand-lettered caption “[f]eeding the quacks*” in the opening double-page illustration of the pair throwing bread into a pond is accompanied by the explanatory “*ducks” just below—but as the protagonists turn out to be older than toddlers and the silliness isn’t repeated, the humor seems flat. Readers are quizzed rhetorically about “one thing that Stella and Sidney did not do together.” “I wonder what that could be?” leads to telling, barely showing, that the twins “did not SHARE.”

Yawn. Skip the text and stick with the illustrations—the result is more entertaining. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6623-1

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Aims high but falls flat.


Through 20 short poems, Maestro Mouse invites readers to meet a series of animals who have lessons to impart and a symphony to perform.

Brown, author of The DaVinci Code (2003) and other wildly popular titles for adults, here offers young listeners a poetry collection accompanied by music: a “symphony” performed, for readers equipped with an audio device and an internet connection, by the Zagreb Festival Orchestra. From the introduction of the conductor and the opening “Woodbird Welcome” to the closing “Cricket Lullaby,” the writer/composer uses poems made of three to eight rhyming couplets, each line with four strong beats, to introduce the animals who will be revealed in the final double gatefold as the players in an all-animal orchestra. Each poem also contains a lesson, reinforced by a short message (often on a banner or signpost). Thus, “When life trips them up a bit, / Cats just make the best of it” concludes the poem “Clumsy Kittens,” which is encapsulated by “Falling down is part of life. The best thing to do is get back on your feet!” The individual songs and poems may appeal to the intended audience, but collectively they don’t have enough variety to be read aloud straight through. Nor does the gathering of the orchestra provide a narrative arc. Batori’s cartoon illustrations are whimsically engaging, however. They include puzzles: hard-to-find letters that are said to form anagrams of instrument names and a bee who turns up somewhere in every scene.

Aims high but falls flat. (Complete composition not available for review.) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12384-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced.


Watch out, Hug Machine (Scott Campbell, 2014), there’s another long-limbed lover of squeezes in the mix.

Bernard, a tiny, lavender bird, dejectedly sits atop a high branch. His wings droop all the way to the ground. Heaving a sigh, his disappointment is palpable. With insufferably long wings, he has never been able to fly. All of his friends easily took to the skies, leaving him behind. There is nothing left to do but sit in his tree and feel sorry for himself. Adamson amusingly shows readers the passage of time with a sequence of vignettes of Bernard sitting in the rain, the dark, and amid a cloud of paper wasps—never moving from his branch. Then one day he hears a sob and finds a tearful orangutan. Without even thinking, Bernard wraps his long wings around the great ape. The orangutan is comforted! Bernard has finally found the best use of his wings. In gentle watercolor and pencil sketches, Adamson slips in many moments of humor. Animals come from all over to tell Bernard their troubles (a lion muses that it is “lonely at the top of the food chain” while a bat worries about missing out on fun during the day). Three vertical spreads that necessitate a 90-degree rotation add to the fun.

Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9271-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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