Fun wordplay balances heavy-handed moralizing.

THE MOUSE'S APPLES

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 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

LITTLE RED SLEIGH

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE PIGEON WILL RIDE THE ROLLER COASTER!

The Pigeon is on an emotional—and physical—roller coaster.

Since learning about the existence of roller coasters, he’s become giddy with excitement. The Pigeon prepares mentally: He’ll need a ticket and “exemplary patience” to wait in line. He envisions zooming up and down and careening through dizzying turns and loops. Then, he imagines his emotions afterward: exhilaration, post-ride blues, pride at having accomplished such a feat, and enthusiasm at the prospect of riding again. (He’ll also feel dizzy and nauseous.) All this before the Pigeon ever sets claw on an actual coaster. So…will he really try it? Are roller coasters fun? When the moment comes, everything seems to go according to plan: waiting in line, settling into the little car, THEN—off he goes! Though the ride itself isn’t quite what the Pigeon expected, it will delight readers. Wearing his feelings on his wing and speaking directly to the audience in first person, the Pigeon describes realistic thoughts and emotions about waiting and guessing about the unknown—common childhood experiences. No sentiment is misplaced; kids will relate to Pigeon’s eagerness and apprehension. The ending falls somewhat flat, but the whole humorous point is that an underwhelming adventure can still be thrilling enough to warrant repeating. Willems’ trademark droll illustrations will have readers giggling. The roller-coaster attendant is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4686-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more