CAT AND MOUSE AND SOMETHING TO DO

A curious little book that treats the imagination as a yo-yo, expertly played by Testa. An omniscient narrator addresses a boy directly: “Why are you bored? Is there nothing to do? What are you thinking?” The boy troops upstairs into the attic, rummages about, and then heads to the kitchen to gather up a few more items. His moves are questioned by the narrator, for whom understanding comes when the boy seats himself at a table and begins to draw an elaborate still life that he has arranged. The text is minimal, offering few cues as to what is afoot. It is the artwork, a burnished delight, that maintains the momentum, establishing characters and settings and pretty much leading readers around by the nose. Amid the flood of imagery, certain pieces are singled out to share the great expanses of white that serve as a field for the text; they seem random at first, though their continuing presence increases their importance in the story. All suggestions culminate in the last page, where the mystery lifts, inevitably, and the enormously appealing adventure has just begun. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 1998

ISBN: 0-86264-799-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Collins & Brown/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1998

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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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COOL CARS

Enhancing the Amazing Machines series aimed at preschoolers, Mitton deals with the vehicles that kids and adults use every day. He offers, however, the unique perspective of the role cars play in our lives: “Cars are really handy / for getting us around.” But there’s so much more. In lilting rhymes, this informal guide glances at the way drivers use signs and signals to navigate streets. It also looks at how a car is driven from the pedals on up, how to keep a car running with gas and care and even how to keep it spiffy with a wash. Mitton touches on different types of cars from off-road vehicles to racing cars. There’s frustration, too, with driving: “Sometimes there’s a traffic jam. / The vehicles all get stuck.” The illustrations, painted in zesty watercolors, have a cartoon appeal featuring round-eyed animals, such as gophers, mice and cats. Topping it all off with a simple diagram of car parts, this is an enjoyable learning tool that will surely ignite curiosity. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: June 16, 2005

ISBN: 0-7534-5802-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2005

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