A gentle picture book about friendship, patience, and love.

THE LONGER THE WAIT, THE BIGGER THE HUG

From the Hedgehog & Friends series

All winter long, Hedgehog hibernates.

During this long sleep, Hedgehog dreams of Tortoise. Hedgehog and Tortoise are best friends, and the cold winter months are hard to survive without their usual best-friend hugs. When spring finally arrives, Hedgehog wakes up, eager to find Tortoise and to get that long-awaited hug. But Tortoise is missing, and no matter how hard Hedgehog looks, they can’t find their best friend. Although disappointed, Hedgehog tries to make the best of things. But Badger’s paws are too sticky to hold, Magpie turns out to be an extremely demanding beach playmate, and Squirrel is a disaster at hide-and-seek. Hedgehog keeps looking for Tortoise, but when Tortoise is still missing, Hedgehog starts to lose hope. Eventually, a wise owl advises Hedgehog that sometimes, if the wait is long, the reunion is especially rewarding—in other words, “the longer the wait, the bigger the hug.” Happily, Hedgehog’s patience pays off, and when Hedgehog and Tortoise are reunited (it turns out Tortoise slightly overslept), their first hug is as epic as Owl promised—so epic that the whole forest comes out to celebrate. This sweet, gentle picture book perfectly pairs sincere and humorous text with watercolor-and-pen sketches that utilize a soothing pastel palette. The storyline is simple, clean, and lively, and the book’s message makes it the perfect tool to start conversations about missing friends and family.

A gentle picture book about friendship, patience, and love. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-571-37038-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

ANIMAL SHAPES

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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