A quiet friendship story reminiscent of Kevin Henkes’ Kitten’s First Full Moon (2004) but not quite so satisfying.

THE MOUSE AND THE MOON

A lonely “little mouse” whose only friend is the moon finds a kindred spirit.

This gentle tale has a simple narrative arc. Tired of their one-sided conversations, the mouse goes in search of a place to get closer to his friend, the moon. Lost and alone in the “wild wood,” he hears a voice coming from the moon’s reflection in a pond. Under the water, a “tiny fish” also talks to the moon. Mouse and fish chat through the night, each thinking the other is the moon. When the sun rises, they see each other and realize they’ve each found a new friend. The text is straightforward and simple, with a great deal of repetition. It’s set amid pictures that tell the story more effectively than the words do. Created with pen, ink, and watercolor and enhanced digitally, most images are black and white. Occasional gray lines add perspective. The characters are washed in pale shades of orange to brown, matching the endpapers. Color (the same pale orange and brown and some green) appears when they finally meet, in daylight. Alborozo's loose pen line neatly conveys the animals’ emotions, the gnarled trees of the forest, and the vegetation around the fish's pond, but the rippled reflections in the "small, still pool" aren't very convincing.

A quiet friendship story reminiscent of Kevin Henkes’ Kitten’s First Full Moon (2004) but not quite so satisfying. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-224-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

ANIMAL SHAPES

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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