From the Moe and Peanut series

The appealingly drawn characters and settings help make the pill of compromise go down without too much difficulty

For two cartoon friends, patience and participation are key to making this camping trip a success.

As Peanut and Moe leave their house, Peanut wants to know if they can go swimming. “Not yet,” says Moe, who is clearly into the logistics of the adventure, in counterpoint to Peanut’s pleasure-principle–driven spontaneity. They go for a hike, do some bird-watching, and have a snack, all the while the increasingly frantic Peanut wants to get in the water. “Now?” “Now?” “Now!” Peanut asks and then demands as Moe seeks to establish camp, ready the tent and the fire, and unpack their packs. “Not yet.” “Not yet.” “Not yet!” Finally, Moe stalks off in a huff as Peanut actively if unconsciously subverts the setting-up of camp. Left alone, and aware of Moe’s frustration, Peanut gets the camp into tip-top shape. Moe sneaks back into camp and yells “NOW!” and the fun begins. Peanut’s arrangement of camp makes the après-swim a pleasure, as they are cozy in their towels, warmed by the fire, and happy to have their meal, and best of all come the s’mores. In Perry’s illustrations, Moe looks like an elongated blue marshmallow with limbs and a long, pink nose, while Peanut looks like their namesake, but with long ears.

The appealingly drawn characters and settings help make the pill of compromise go down without too much difficulty . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-91952-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019


Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

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. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020


Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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