A solid first effort from an aspiring young author, despite flaws and an uncertain intended audience.

THE WAR OF THE WOLVES

Debut author Scanio’s YA tale of a young wolf who vows to take revenge against the pack that killed her family.

Luna is making preparations for her little brother’s coming-of-age howling ceremony when a sudden forest fire has her fleeing for her life. Once the fire dies down, she returns to her territory but is unable to find her family. She then travels and meets another wolf, Na’vi, who informs her that her family was killed. Na’vi also later reveals that his own family was murdered by the Desert Valley Pack, and he smelled traces of the pack’s scent around the bodies of Luna’s dead family. Luna and Na’vi eventually meet another wolf, Caleb, and his pack, and Caleb tells Luna and Na’vi that the Desert Valley Pack murdered his father, too. Later, they learn that Caleb’s brother, Bullet, is a traitor working for the Desert Valley Pack. Together, Caleb, Luna, Na’vi and their new friends vow to exact revenge against their shared enemies. After a series of skirmishes, the final battle looms. Luna’s story certainly has the potential to be a captivating one, as Luna makes friends with other wronged wolves on her path to revenge. However, the simplistic prose can be clunky at times, and scads of exposition tend to bury the narrative, leaving the characters short on depth and difficult to distinguish from one another. To be fair, some wolves do stand out, especially Blade, the black wolf with the rotten attitude. And sometimes Scanio lets her characters emote quite beautifully: “Tears ran down [Luna’s] muzzle,” she writes. “She lay down on the ground and covered her eyes with her paws.” But as a whole, the wolves aren’t particularly memorable characters, and readers will be left feeling little in the way of empathy as the wolves proceed to kill one another. The recurring violence may also be at odds with the narrative’s intended audience; the prose style and length suggest the story is meant to be cataloged as a chapter book, but it’s difficult to imagine parents of beginning readers being OK, for example, with Bullet snapping his own father’s neck.

A solid first effort from an aspiring young author, despite flaws and an uncertain intended audience.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4772-8290-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2013

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The greeting-card art and jokey rhymes work for the baby-shower market but not for the youngest readers.

I LOVE YOU LIKE NO OTTER

Animal parents declare their love for their offspring through rhymed puns and sentimental art.

The title sets the scene for what’s to come: The owl asks the owlet as they fly together, “WHOO loves you?”; the kangaroo and joey make each other “very HOPPY”; and the lioness and cub are a “PURRRFECT pair.” Most of the puns are both unimaginative and groanworthy, and they are likely to go over the heads of toddlers, who are not know for their wordplay abilities. The text is set in abcb quatrains split over two double-page spreads. On each spread, one couplet appears on the verso within a lightly decorated border on pastel pages. On the recto, a full-bleed portrait of the animal and baby appears in softly colored and cozy images. Hearts are prominent on every page, floating between the parent and baby as if it is necessary to show the love between each pair. Although these critters are depicted in mistily conceived natural habitats and are unclothed, they are human stand-ins through and through.

The greeting-card art and jokey rhymes work for the baby-shower market but not for the youngest readers. (Board book. 6 mos-2)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1374-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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An unabashed love letter from mother.

I LOVE YOU, LITTLE POOKIE

From the Little Pookie series

A sweet celebration of the bond between a mother and her Pookie.

The eighth installment in this always charming series eschews the episodic drama and silliness of earlier outing such as Spooky Pookie (2015) in favor of a mom’s-eye-view celebration of her child and the time they spend together. There is, of course, nothing wrong with drama and silliness. But while the lack of conflict and plot in favor of unapologetic sentiment makes this book a quick read, that doesn’t make it any less endearing. The rhymed verse captures a mother’s wonder as she observes the many facets of her child’s personality: “Ah, Pookie. My little one. My funny one. My child. // Sometimes you are quiet. Sometimes you are wild.” On the simple joys of shared moments, she notes, “I love to go walking with you by my side. / I love when we sing when we go for a ride. // And I love just to watch as you think and you play. / The way that you are is a wonderful way.” Paired with author/illustrator Boynton’s irresistible renderings of a porcine mommy and her playful, snuggly little piglet, the result is impossible to fault. Whether quietly reading, running in a tiger suit, singing with mom in the car, ears flapping in the breeze, or enjoying the safety of mom’s embrace, Pookie’s appeal continues unabated.

An unabashed love letter from mother. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3723-4

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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