Good spirits takes the solemnity out of differences.

TOO MUCH! NOT ENOUGH!

From the Moe and Peanut series

They could be Felix and Oscar of The Odd Couple, except Perry has made one into what looks like an animated peanut (named, appropriately, Peanut) and the other a tidy refrigerator with Jimmy Durante’s beezer.

Moe likes things on the controlled, neat side; Peanut likes things in constant motion. “Too much splashing” is met with “not enough puddles.” “Too much food” is countered with “Not enough syrup.” The two of them go back and forth, one unnerved by the gathering chaos, the other ready to test the limits of chaos theory. But it is rather fun. Moe may be a bit of a neatnik, but the pink-nosed, snaggle-toothed blue monster isn’t oppressive about it, and Peanut is never an in-your-face pest—actually Peanut’s always looking for the silver lining to turn Moe’s grumbles (though Moe rarely, rarely has a grumpy face) into joy: “Too much mess.” “Not enough bubbles!” That is what separates this book about differences—the mood is upbeat. Even when Moe blows a fuse and goes out into the night to study the stars (though it is raining) and get away from the mayhem, readers know common ground is not far away and that after Peanut has cleaned the place up—inquiring upon Moe’s return if it is “Too much” tidiness—all will be well.

Good spirits takes the solemnity out of differences. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-91950-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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

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