Even the most patient and precocious of preschoolers will need lots of help with this one.

READ REVIEW

HAPPY ANGRY SAD

From the Odd One Out series

A challenging exercise in sorting, categorization and identification.

The book opens with a spread populated by 11 nearly identical polar bears and four questions: “Who is shy? Who is very shy? Who has a little snowflake on his nose? And who is going on a winter holiday?” Not only are readers likely to be somewhat perplexed at being asked to sort shy bears from very shy ones, they might well find the differences in the animals’ facial features too subtle to be meaningful. The bear with the snowflake on his nose and the one going on holiday—presumably the one with the hat on his head—are a bit easier to identify. Subsequently, readers are asked to sort angry from very angry rhinos, happy from very happy frogs, sad from very sad spiders and more. Each spread also asks readers to locate a creature wearing something specific or performing a certain action, and there’s always one going on a winter holiday. A simultaneously publishing title, 8 9 and 10, incorporates counting questions—asking readers, for instance, “Who is standing on 1 leg and who on 2?” and “Who has 2 humps and who has 3?” Though it’s not a board book, Not All Animals Are Blue, by Béatrice Boutignon (2009), covers similar ground far more successfully.

Even the most patient and precocious of preschoolers will need lots of help with this one. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60537-186-3

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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Good bedtime reading.

POLAR BEAR ISLAND

Only polar bears are allowed on Polar Bear Island, until Kirby, a friendly, creative penguin, arrives on the scene.

On the verso of the first double-page spread, large white lettering proclaims against an azure sky: “Polar Bear Island was peaceful and predictable. Parker, the mayor, planned to keep it that way.” Below, Parker—paint can in left paw—can be seen facing his sign: “Welcome to Polar Bear Island. No Others Allowed.” On the recto, Kirby floats into view on an ice floe, with hat, scarf, and overstuffed suitcase. When Kirby arrives, Parker grudgingly allows her an overnight stay. However, she soon proves her worth to the other bears; she has invented Flipper Slippers, which keep extremities warm and reverse from skates to snowshoes. Now Kirby is allowed to stay and help the bears make their own Flipper Slippers. When her family shows up with more inventions, Parker feels compelled to give them a week. (Presumably, the penguins have made the 12,430-mile-trip from the South Pole to the North Pole, characterized merely as “a long journey.”) A minor crisis permanently changes Parker’s attitudes about exclusivity. The text is accessible and good fun to read aloud. The weakness of the ostensible theme of granting welcome to newcomers lies in the fact that all the newcomers are immediately, obviously useful to the bears. The cartoonlike, scratchboard-ish graphics are lighthearted and full of anthropomorphic touches.

Good bedtime reading. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2870-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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This is a tremendously moving story, but some people will be moved only on the second reading, after they’ve Googled “How to...

I NEED A HUG

A hug shouldn’t require an instruction manual—but some do.

A porcupine can frighten even the largest animal. In this picture book, a bear and a deer, along with a small rabbit, each run away when they hear eight simple words and their name: “I need a hug. Will you cuddle me,…?” As they flee, each utters a definitive refusal that rhymes with their name. The repetitive structure gives Blabey plenty of opportunities for humor, because every animal responds to the question with an outlandish, pop-eyed expression of panic. But the understated moments are even funnier. Each animal takes a moment to think over the request, and the drawings are nuanced enough that readers can see the creatures react with slowly building anxiety or, sometimes, a glassy stare. These silent reaction shots not only show exquisite comic timing, but they make the rhymes in the text feel pleasingly subtle by delaying the final line in each stanza. The story is a sort of fable about tolerance. It turns out that a porcupine can give a perfectly adequate hug when its quills are flat and relaxed, but no one stays around long enough to find out except for an animal that has its own experiences with intolerance: a snake. It’s an apt, touching moral, but the climax may confuse some readers as they try to figure out the precise mechanics of the embrace.

This is a tremendously moving story, but some people will be moved only on the second reading, after they’ve Googled “How to pet a porcupine.” (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-29710-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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