THE MOUSE'S APPLES

Fun wordplay balances heavy-handed moralizing.

Mouse teaches a lesson to “the naughty bear who doesn’t share.”

While her “tummy roll[s] and rumble[s],” Mouse “scamper[s] down the hill” to forage and is lucky enough to find four delicious apples. Just as Mouse is about to take her first bite, the bear that attentive readers will have seen lurking in previous illustrations looms large. “ ‘Apples,’ boomed the bear, / ‘are my favorite tasty treat. / And I’ve been here all winter / without anything to eat.’ ” (Since apples generally ripen in summer and fall, Bear’s—or Stickley’s—sense of seasons seems grievously off.) When Mouse offers to share the apples, Bear refuses and instead threatens to eat Mouse. Instead of just yielding the apples, Mouse devises a clever plan to trick Bear, and a double-page spread divided into three horizontal panels illustrates Bear’s long journey home while Mouse is secretly getting “fat and happy” on the apples. An astonished, angry Bear soon discovers the trick, but when Mouse offers the last apple to him, Bear abruptly and unrealistically realizes how good it feels to share, and the two become friends. Alliteration (“red and rosy”; “green and gleaming”) and the potential for dramatic voices for Mouse and Bear make the book fun to read aloud, though the rhythm has a few rough spots. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 35.6 % of actual size.)

Fun wordplay balances heavy-handed moralizing. (map) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72841-580-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Andersen Press USA

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

BEAR FINDS EGGS

From the Bear Books series

Cheery fun that will leave series fans “egg”-static.

In his latest outing, Bear and his pals go in search of eggs.

Bear “lumbers with his friends through the Strawberry Vale.” Raven finds a nest; climbing up, “The bear finds eggs!”: a refrain that appears throughout. Instead of eating the robin’s eggs, however, Bear leaves a gift of dried berries in the nest for the “soon-to-be-chicks.” Next, the friends find 10 mallard eggs (as bright blue as the robin’s), and Bear leaves sunflower seeds. Then the wail of Mama Meadowlark, whose bright yellow undercarriage strikes a warm golden note, leads them to promise to find her lost eggs. With his friends’ assistance, Bear finds one, and they decide to paint them “so they aren’t lost again.” Another is discovered, painted, and placed in Hare’s basket. After hours of persistent searching, Bear suddenly spots the remaining two eggs “in a small patch of clover.” Before they can return these eggs, the chicks hatch and rejoin their mother. Back at his lair, Bear, with his troupe, is visited by all 17 chicks and the robin, mallard, and meadowlark moms: “And the bear finds friends!” Though this sweet spring tale centers on finding and painting eggs, it makes no overt references to Easter. The soft green and blue acrylics, predictable rhymes, and rolling rhythm make this series installment another low-key natural read-aloud.

Cheery fun that will leave series fans “egg”-static. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2024

ISBN: 9781665936552

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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