A salute to the spirit of invention that reads more like a first draft than a finished product.



A young Renaissance penguin triumphs after much trial and considerable error.

Rutland crafts an incoherent tale featuring a beaked inventor who puts part of his flock in peril with one experimental device, then gets them out of it with another. Trapped on a small iceberg that’s been split from the home glacier in some unclear way by his new flying machine and is rapidly shrinking as ice chunks are bitten off by a menacing orca, Chilly hastens to construct from apparently limitless quantities of iron “sea junk” a series of baroque escape vehicles. After his riveted “Polar Roller” sinks like a stone and a side-wheeled submarine likewise fails (“My pulleys didn’t pulley. My engine didn’t engine,” he comments opaquely), he pauses for some kelp casserole made by the “ladies who chick-sit me” before ultimately (after many pages) succeeding. The splashy watercolor-style illustrations alternate between jumbled brown leaves of rough diagrams and Antarctic scenes of the bespectacled Chilly, ruminating over each reversal and ignoring the sallies of nemesis Vinnie (“Hey, pull my flipper”) in the background. The tale’s non sequiturs and coy sight gags and references will likely play better with readers than its supposed theme—which, according to the author’s awkwardly phrased afterword, reflects the life of the historical Leonardo in focusing more on process than rewards and in thinking outside the box.

A salute to the spirit of invention that reads more like a first draft than a finished product. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4283-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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


From the Elephant & Piggie series

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. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination.


When Rabbit’s unbridled mania for collecting carrots leaves him unable to sleep in his cozy burrow, other animals offer to put him up.

But to Rabbit, their homes are just more storage space for carrots: Tortoise’s overstuffed shell cracks open; the branch breaks beneath Bird’s nest; Squirrel’s tree trunk topples over; and Beaver’s bulging lodge collapses at the first rainstorm. Impelled by guilt and the epiphany that “carrots weren’t for collecting—they were for SHARING!” Rabbit invites his newly homeless friends into his intact, and inexplicably now-roomy, burrow for a crunchy banquet. This could be read (with some effort) as a lightly humorous fable with a happy ending, and Hudson’s depictions of carrot-strewn natural scenes, of Rabbit as a plush bunny, and of the other animals as, at worst, mildly out of sorts support that take. Still, the insistent way Rabbit keeps forcing himself on his friends and the magnitude of the successive disasters may leave even less-reflective readers disturbed. Moreover, as Rabbit is never seen actually eating a carrot, his stockpiling looks a lot like the sort of compulsive hoarding that, in humans, is regarded as a mental illness.

Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62370-638-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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