Gives “friend” a disquieting nuance.

I JUST ATE MY FRIEND

On the spur of the moment, anyone can make a mistake.

In a twist on Eric Carle’s classic Do You Want to Be My Friend? (1971) and the many like-themed quests trailing in its wake, a suddenly friendless yellow monster makes the titular confession, mourns, and then goes in search of a new companion. Following a string of refusals that range from “No, you are too big,” and “No, you are too scary” (not to mention a terse “No”) to a terrifying, page filling “Rrrooar!” the monster begins to lose heart. Will it be lonely forever? But, no fears, a suitable (teal) candidate sidles up at last: “Hello! I will be your friend.” Cue the warm smiles and clasped paws…until a page turn reveals only the new arrival, guiltily admitting, “I just ate my friend.” Arranged in simple compositions and positioned for maximum comic effect, McKinnon’s monsters don’t look at all feral (although the protagonist does have a mouthful of sharp teeth, they are very tiny, commanding much less attention than its large, googly eyes and potato-shaped body), so the summary fate of the yellow one may come as a surprise (at least the first time through) to audiences who expect a more-conventional ending. Readers who prefer their comedy on the dark side à la Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back (2011) or Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross’ Tadpole’s Promise (2005) will relish this alternative outcome.

Gives “friend” a disquieting nuance. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1032-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back.

TINY T. REX AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HUG

With such short arms, how can Tiny T. Rex give a sad friend a hug?

Fleck goes for cute in the simple, minimally detailed illustrations, drawing the diminutive theropod with a chubby turquoise body and little nubs for limbs under a massive, squared-off head. Impelled by the sight of stegosaurian buddy Pointy looking glum, little Tiny sets out to attempt the seemingly impossible, a comforting hug. Having made the rounds seeking advice—the dino’s pea-green dad recommends math; purple, New Age aunt offers cucumber juice (“That is disgusting”); red mom tells him that it’s OK not to be able to hug (“You are tiny, but your heart is big!”), and blue and yellow older sibs suggest practice—Tiny takes up the last as the most immediately useful notion. Unfortunately, the “tree” the little reptile tries to hug turns out to be a pterodactyl’s leg. “Now I am falling,” Tiny notes in the consistently self-referential narrative. “I should not have let go.” Fortunately, Tiny lands on Pointy’s head, and the proclamation that though Rexes’ hugs may be tiny, “I will do my very best because you are my very best friend” proves just the mood-lightening ticket. “Thank you, Tiny. That was the biggest hug ever.” Young audiences always find the “clueless grown-ups” trope a knee-slapper, the overall tone never turns preachy, and Tiny’s instinctive kindness definitely puts him at (gentle) odds with the dinky dino star of Bob Shea’s Dinosaur Vs. series.

Wins for compassion and for the refusal to let physical limitations hold one back. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7033-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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PUG BLASTS OFF

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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