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One-on-one or as part of a crowd, readers will enjoy wandering with Crab.

A highly interactive ocean-floor jaunt.

In the spirit of Christie Matheson’s Tap the Magic Tree (2013) and Hervé Tullet’s Press Here! (2011), each spread contains a pleasing balance of prompts to readers in clean black text and friendly, high-contrast illustrations. Several spreads with die-cut overlays offer discovery opportunities and will foster an enthusiasm for books via the delight of meeting sea creatures with each page turn. While the titular crustacean—drawn as a red disk with six tiny legs, two stylized pincer claws, and googly eyes on stalks—is the central character in this meandering exploration, an octopus, sea turtles, and more perform cameos. These brief appearances from other critters introduce gentle social-emotional vocabulary such as “annoyed,” “rude,” and “apologize.” Dynamic words like “scuttle” and “tempt” are paired with various instructions to “shake” and “wriggle” the book for endless conversation starters and opportunities for readers to get their wiggles out. Aside from coaxing Crab out of the cave, the adventure has no clear goal and few true obstacles; the focus is on having a good time and keeping up with Crab’s whereabouts. Scaffolded reading is possible with this volume: Older kids could hit the internet to learn more about molting while younger kids can repeatedly (and satisfyingly) turn Crab from red to pink and back to red with the flip of a shaped flap.

One-on-one or as part of a crowd, readers will enjoy wandering with Crab. (Picture book/novelty. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68464-064-5

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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

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. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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