An uplifting tale of triumph likely to encourage struggling young bicyclists to take off soaring.

FLETCHER AND THE FLEDGLING

A child and a fledgling show off their new skills in this coming-of-age picture book.

It’s Fletcher’s big day: The training wheels are coming off his bike. His light-skinned family has gathered; his parents, aunts, and grandfather have their cameras ready. Nearby, some noisy crows also sound like they are celebrating. When a motorcyclist roars down the street, it almost disrupts the day—and it certainly bothers the crows, who then dive at a neighbor passing too closely beneath their tree. But soon Fletcher is off, and after his father lets go, the boy realizes a small crow is gliding alongside him. “Look at us,” Fletcher calls out. “We’re Flying!!” This slice-of-life story is told simply in a down- to-earth fashion that focuses tightly on Fletcher’s excitement at accomplishing a rite of passage. While psychologist Lonczak acknowledges the boy’s worries (“The bike felt wobbly at first, and Fletcher was a little scared”), the tale puts heavy weight on the support of his relatives and the subtle parallel between their presence and the protectiveness of the crow’s parents. Dimitrovska’s vibrant oil-pastel illustrations are softly lined, sometimes creating an indistinct feel at the borders of people and backgrounds, making details slightly hazy. But the choice of colors for Fletcher’s helmet, eyes, bike, and clothing emphasizes the feeling of flight. In his moment of victory, the boy almost appears to be part of the sky.

An uplifting tale of triumph likely to encourage struggling young bicyclists to take off soaring.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73446-870-0

Page Count: 34

Publisher: IngramSpark

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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