BEST SUMMER EVER

From the Frog and Friends series , Vol. 3

There are good lessons here, but here's hoping Bunting will deliver the next ones with a healthier helping of humor.

Frog and his friends are back (Frog and Friends, 2011) in another trio of early-reader tales, but this time they focus less on humor and problem solving and more on life lessons and manners.

In the first story, Frog and Bat play a game, pointing out the ways in which they are different, though “not unkindly.” There are compliments aplenty as the two discover that they have just as many similarities as differences. In the second story, Frog sets off for a vacation for some time alone to think. The trouble is, his friends all want to come along. Not wanting to be rude, Frog allows it, and it turns out to be the best vacation ever. In the final tale, Frog meets Starman, who gives away the stars in the sky (and teaches a few star facts in the process). Frog gathers all his friends, and they each pick out a star to be their very own, even though they have to stay in the sky. The hearty friendships are plenty evident, both in the text and in the expressive faces of Masse’s characters, but with the book’s emphasis on not hurting others’ feelings and making sure all are included, this is definitely more didactic than the series opener.

There are good lessons here, but here's hoping Bunting will deliver the next ones with a healthier helping of humor. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58536-550-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

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

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

JOSÉ AND EL PERRO

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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