Pete may seem like an appealing role model to adults, but any child who has experienced the smirching of a new pair of shoes...

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PETE THE CAT

I LOVE MY WHITE SHOES

From the Pete the Cat series

An imperturbable blue cat walks along and sings his song regardless of what he steps in.

Pete the Cat loves his white Chucks so much that he sings a repetitive ditty: “I love my white shoes, / I love my white shoes, / I love my white shoes.” (In order to accompany himself, he removes the two sneakers from his front feet and picks up an electric guitar.) Presumably not looking where he is going, he steps into a “large pile” of strawberries. The bright gouache illustrations depict Pete standing atop a mountain of red fruits—on it, not really in it, but no matter. His shoes turn red; Pete thinks to himself that “everything is cool!” and sings about his red shoes. Then—“Oh no!”—he steps into a heap of blueberries. “What color did it turn his shoes?” asks the narrator. All the children who have learned basic color theory will cry, “Purple!” and feel betrayed when the page turn indicates that Pete’s sneakers have in fact turned blue. A walk through some mud turns them brown, and then a stroll through a bucket of water turns them white again. (Now they go “squeak squeak squeak” as he walks.) Pete’s ability to shrug off the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune without even opening his eyes all the way is a quality many parents might wish their children shared, but it makes him awfully hard to relate to.

Pete may seem like an appealing role model to adults, but any child who has experienced the smirching of a new pair of shoes probably won’t buy the cool he’s peddling. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-190622-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2014

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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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