Pleasant diversions for younger talespinners.

FISH ON A WALK

A German surrealist debuts on this side of the Atlantic with a set of independent scenes that will give wings to flights of imagination.

Small figures of dressed animals, animated mushrooms and the occasional gnome stroll or scuttle through indoor and outdoor settings over word pairings that are sometimes opposites and other times not (quite): “Scared – Brave,” “Cranky – Kind,” “Tricky – Truthful.” A teeter-totter with an elephant on one end and a wobbly-looking pyramid of smaller creatures on the other illustrates alone/together; a “Brave” frog guitarist serenades an audience of attentive veggies while a “Scared” bunny cellist suffers an attack of stage fright; a table of monkeys going “Wild” in a restaurant as a family of “Polite” pigs studiously looks away. These central scenarios can be seen in a glance, but further examination reveals smaller and often more ambiguous side business that, properly, invites questions (Why do those ants have shopping bags? Is that a shark’s fin in that puddle of spilled soda?) and speculative answers. Though Muggenthaler’s art, painted with small strokes and daubs of muddy, generally low-contrast colors, is subdued, her lively imagination and tongue-in-cheek sense of humor provide a redemptive shine.

Pleasant diversions for younger talespinners. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59270-116-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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