Surprisingly charming and with delightful illustrations.

READ REVIEW

MANNY LOSES HIS FANGS

An anthropomorphic vampire bat learns how to use his scary fangs to help his friends rather than frighten them in this Italian import.

Manny the vampire bat wants to be the scariest vampire bat in the world. But after his “baby fangs” fall out, Manny fears “his scaring days [are] over.” The silver lining to this is that he is able to make friends with other animals now that he’s not so scary anymore. He enjoys having friends so much that, in a reversal, when his adult fangs grow in, he fears losing his new companions. But instead, his scary skills come in handy, and he intimidates some taunting bullies. Ferri’s beautifully soft illustrations are a smart contrast to the intensity of a vampire bat, giving Manny just enough ferocity without making him truly terrifying to young readers. The icy blue-gray tones of the cave, along with the rich, warm skies and fields, make even the scenery a character. Despite its animal protagonist, this story is one to which many readers can relate, with its theme of fitting in and finding friends. Manny is quite the likable antihero. The story itself has just the right beat, not dwelling too long or moving too quickly. There is some wonderfully rich vocabulary for the intended audience, too: words such as “trotters,” “sulked,” and “admiration.” The book wraps up nicely with a subtle message of being oneself.

Surprisingly charming and with delightful illustrations. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-988-8341-83-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minedition

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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Readers are likely to love it to the moon and back.

WILL YOU BE MY FRIEND?

Little Nutbrown Hare ventures out into the wide world and comes back with a new companion in this sequel to Guess How Much I Love You (1994).

Big Nutbrown Hare is too busy, so after asking permission, Little Nutbrown Hare scampers off over the rolling meadow to play by himself. After discovering that neither his shadow nor his reflection make satisfactory playmates (“You’re only another me!”), Little Nutbrown comes to Cloudy Mountain…and meets “Someone real!” It’s a white bunny who introduces herself as Tipps. But a wonderful round of digging and building and chasing about reaches an unexpected end with a game of hide-and-seek, because both hares hide! After waiting a long time to be found, Little Nutbrown Hare hops on home in disappointment, wondering whether he’ll ever see Tipps again. As it turns out, it doesn’t take long to find out, since she has followed him. “Now, where on earth did she come from?” wonders Big Nutbrown. “Her name is Tipps,” Little Nutbrown proudly replies, “and she’s my friend.” Jeram’s spacious, pale-toned, naturalistic outdoor scenes create a properly idyllic setting for this cozy development in a tender child-caregiver relationship—which hasn’t lost a bit of its appealing intimacy in the more than 25 years since its first appearance. As in the first, Big Nutbrown Hare is ungendered, facilitating pleasingly flexible readings.

Readers are likely to love it to the moon and back. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1747-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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