The Schuberts dish up a nourishing broth, using “Stone Soup” and “Grasshopper and the Ants” as main ingredients. Hardworking, pest-hating Kate is infuriated when a genial giant, Bruce, cobbles together a ramshackle cabin next door—and even more so at his lackadaisical way with putting off till tomorrow what, in her view, should be done right now. When an ensuing winter storm blows his shack away, she reluctantly invites him into her cozy home—but refuses to feed him from her industriously gathered stores, until he proposes making soup from his small hammer. All he needs is a pot. . . . Children will enjoy contrasting the mild-mannered giant with his diminutive, type-A neighbor, as well as their respective homes—hers wonderfully tidy, with an adjacent, thoroughly weeded garden strewn with warning signs: his, thrown together from junk and mismatched parts—both rendered with engagingly exact detail in the pictures. By the end, Kate has lightened up, Bruce has shown at least a sign of changing his ways, and the two, along with their respective pets, are positively radiating good fellowship. Beautiful soup. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-932425-02-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2004


From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014


Though directed at sons, the guidance presented is sensible for kids of all genders navigating life.

A companion offering to actor Duff’s My Little Brave Girl (2021) with sound, sensitive advice from parents to children on their journey through childhood.

A gracefully drawn watercolor palette limns a diverse group of boys portrayed not just as brave and strong, but as kind, caring, and observant. They can climb trees and be physically active while also being encouraged to “honor the power of all [their] emotions.” A boy is sitting unhappily with his dad on their front stoop waving goodbye to his mom, who’s leaving for a trip; when you’re sad, it’s certainly OK to cry. Understanding right from wrong is important, demonstrated by two boys shown intervening when a third is being nasty to a fourth younger child. Picking apples and planting and harvesting a vegetable garden illustrate ways to take care of their bodies. A boy making signs for his class president candidacy depicts confidence and the ability to use his voice. A final scene stresses the importance of listening, questioning, and being willing to learn, whether by choosing books to read, walking to school with other children, or conversing with a grandparent. The visual examples given to enhance each portion of the narrative should elicit discussion through the inferences implied.

Though directed at sons, the guidance presented is sensible for kids of all genders navigating life. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780593300756

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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