A roaring debut.



After Coralie befriends the lion in a traveling circus, the entire troupe spurns its dictatorial ringmaster.

Woods-dwelling Coralie swings from trees and juggles, unbound by rules. She’s “funny and brave and silly and strange” but lonely. When the boisterous little circus arrives, Coralie follows it. The Man in the Big Hat bosses everyone. “Less wobbling!” he tells the high-wire cat. “More bananas!” he shouts to the juggling chimp. When Coralie auditions, Lion roars appreciatively, but the Man in the Big Hat dismisses her tricks as “not good enough,” assigning her instead to be a “human cannonball.” Brave Coralie literally rises to the challenge: Easton frames her in midair, the amazed crowd a sea of faces far below. “ ‘ROAR!’ said Lion, which meant, ‘You were amazing!’ ” But the Man in the Big Hat excoriates her performance, banishing her and ordering the performers back to work: “More tricks! Less smiling! And absolutely no caring about each other!” This time, Lion roars so powerfully that man and hat blow clear away. Easton’s matte illustrations make striking use of red and black for the circus’ excitement. The ferny, blue-green woods and Lion’s radiating mane agreeably evoke earlier artists: John Burningham, Martin and Alice Provensen, even Henri Rousseau. Well-paced and patterned, the narrative offers fully seven opportunities for children to join in with a “ROAR.” Coralie and the Man with the Big Hat both present white; other human performers and the circus’s audience are diverse.

A roaring debut. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78603-031-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow

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Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun.


From the Clothesline Clues series

Heling and Hembrook’s clever conceit challenges children to analyze a small town’s clotheslines to guess the job each of their owners does. 

Close-up on the clothesline: “Uniform and cap, / an invite for you. / Big bag of letters. / What job does she do?” A turn of the page reveals a macro view of the home, van and the woman doing her job, “She is a mail carrier.” Indeed, she can be spotted throughout the book delivering invitations to all the rest of the characters, who gather at the end for a “Launch Party.” The verses’ rhymes are spot-on, though the rhythm falters a couple of times. The authors nicely mix up the gender stereotypes often associated with several of these occupations, making the carpenter, firefighter and astronaut women. But while Davies keeps uniforms and props pretty neutral (he even avoids U.S. mail symbols), he keeps to the stereotypes that allow young readers to easily identify occupations—the farmer chews on a stalk of wheat; the beret-wearing artist sports a curly mustache. A subdued palette and plain white backgrounds keep kids’ focus on the clothing clues. Still, there are plenty of details to absorb—the cat with arched back that anticipates a spray of water, the firefighter who “lights” the rocket.

Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-251-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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