OLIVE & PEKOE IN FOUR SHORT WALKS

Olive and Pekoe are very different dogs, but they are the best of friends.

The friendship between Olive, an old, small dog, and Pekoe, a lively, large puppy, is presented in four vignettes of the walks the two dogs take together. Illustrator Potter’s impressively expressive naïve-style watercolor, ink, and colored-pencil illustrations perfectly nuance author Davis’ witty text. In “Walk One,” Olive and Pekoe explore the woods, where “Pekoe adores playing with sticks” while “Olive prefers resting in the mud and grass.” The friendship theme is humorously underscored when Pekoe brings Olive a “good stick,” which Olive “just looks at…but she appreciates the gesture.” “Walk Two” finds the duo unhappily caught in a thunderstorm—and here, Potter’s illustrations relay atmosphere and dog expression with striking sophistication given their inherent simplicity. “Walk Three” features chipmunks, and “Walk Four,” a canine bully. Each story contrasts, with a light, dryly humorous touch, the behavior of the elder, experienced Olive and the younger, enthusiastic Pekoe; and in each the theme of friendship is presented in a fresh, nonsaccharine way. Davis uses large words to convey the feelings of Olive (“Olive isn’t overly concerned about the chipmunk’s whereabouts”), but it fits the droll tone. The layout is consistent, presenting a full-page illustration opposite a page of text from spread to spread—until the final page, where the words and illustration are presented together; this clever design visually and textually summarizes the story’s theme of friendship’s togetherness.

A delight. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-257310-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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

HEY, DUCK!

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. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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