This attempt to convey big ideas enjoys little success.

YOU BIG AND ME SMALL

Size matters.

At least it does to the lion, king of the animals, who begrudgingly welcomes a little orphaned elephant seeking shelter at his palace. The pair becomes inseparable, enjoying stories and games. Years pass; the elephant grows, as small creatures do. The lion, never large anyway, has stopped growing, as is the wont of adults. The relationship sours; the king demands reassurance that, despite the size differential, he is dominant. The elephant, as big in character as in stature and girth, repeatedly allows that the king is big and he is small. Appeasement doesn’t work, and the king banishes the elephant. Much later the elephant encounters the now-wizened, forlorn lion, who concedes he was overthrown for arrogance and pride. The elephant staunchly proclaims the lion is still royal and big, and they return to the palace. This odd French fable, a Canadian import, seems aimed to convey messages about the folly of false pride and the beauty of true friendship. Are readers also warned about parent-child relationships? If so, how—should kids not grow, or adults will abandon them? The narrative’s lack of clarity, abetted by uneven translation (occasional mixing of tenses), is softened somewhat by vivid if static oil paintings. Readers will appreciate the elephant’s bemused expressiveness but may find the depiction of the lion with human face and extremities creepy.

This attempt to convey big ideas enjoys little success. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-2281-0000-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Extremely simple and rather sweet.

BULLDOZER'S CHRISTMAS DIG

From the Bulldozer series

Bulldozer is worried about what to give his friends for Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, Dump Truck is carrying, Digger Truck is stringing, and Crane Truck is lifting—all in service of decorating for Christmas. But Bulldozer is on the side, surrounded by cats, worrying. He has not a single gift for his friends. What can he do? He sees a tire half buried in the snow and wonders what other treasures might be there. He starts to dig, and he hits something…but it turns out to be junk. He keeps on digging and finds something else: “more junk.” He keeps digging and digging. The piles grow larger, the sky gets darker, and Bulldozer’s hope fades. But then he thinks he sees something through the snow. He pokes the pile of junk this way and that. He adds bits and pieces. As his friends call out to him that it’s quitting time, Bulldozer puts last touches on his gift. He moves aside to reveal his creation to his friends, and all are pleased with the gift. The little yellow Bulldozer with his entourage of animal friends is a likable character whose plight children will relate to and whose noncommercial solution is a model for creative youngsters to take as inspiration. Best for wrapping a message of giving within a truck-loving package full of sound effects. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Extremely simple and rather sweet. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3820-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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