Roldán celebrates the social currency of cracking-good storytelling—and the expediency of a well-placed nap.

JUAN HORMIGA

Juan, a red denizen of a colony of busy black ants, offsets his extreme indolence by enthralling his mates with picaresque tales of his grandfather’s derring-do.

Capable of 10 daily naps, Juan one day surprises everyone by appearing with “a stick between his feet with a little cloth bundle full of food.” He’s off to trace his grandfather’s paths, to “see the world” and return with “heaps of new stories to tell.” As hours pass, the ants speculate on Juan’s adventures, thereby imbuing him with increasing quantities of strength and bravery. A flash flood during Juan’s absence prompts ever greater heights of cogitation, as the ants envisage their newly crowned hero drowned. After the flood recedes, the ants decide to memorialize Juan by planting a flower at the base of a large willow tree. En route, a passing mosquito reports that Juan is actually asleep in that very tree, high up in a knothole. Indeed, the champion napper has slept through the flood, bedding down at the first hint of heavy clouds. Juan cleverly assuages the ants’ disappointment, springing down to share the bundle of food he’d packed while regaling them—yet again— with his grandfather’s escape from an eagle’s talons. Charmingly ant-ic black line drawings, accented with red, green, and yellow, pop against expansive white space. Dialogue is keyed in red type, enhancing the handsome overall design.

Roldán celebrates the social currency of cracking-good storytelling—and the expediency of a well-placed nap. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-939810-82-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Elsewhere Editions

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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