HONEY BADGERS

Wearing influences from Maurice Sendak to Edward Gorey on his sleeve, Odone debuts with a child’s terse, surreal self-introduction. Found in a basket and raised by a pair of honey badgers—dressed, in the delicately drawn illustrations, in cable-knit, cold weather gear—a human child notes, among similar random observations, that his parents dine on snakes but he only eats flowers, that his father makes wonderful kites from ferns, and that while some claim that living in a den is absurd, what’s really absurd is that a friend lives with a couple of “creeping beetles.” He then announces that he’s going to bed. His free-ranging, outdoorsy lifestyle, along with the carved stone animals, rumpled-looking trees and other odd details tucked into the pictures, may engage readers for a bit, but most will just scratch their heads and move on. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-932425-51-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Front Street/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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NIGHT OF THE VEGGIE MONSTER

McClements takes a distinctly parental point of view in portraying a young veggie-hater’s nightly dinner-table performance. “Time for another fun-filled hour,” observes Dad grimly, setting down a plate holding three seemingly boulder-sized peas in front of the hyper-dramatic lad who narrates. One touch of pea to tongue is all it takes to elicit writhing fingers (“Ahh . . . I knew it would start with the fingers”), curling toes (“That’s a new one!”) and twitches that are violent enough to knock over the chair as the child is transformed into . . . “a veggie monster!” Peas choked down at last, the crisis ends—but, of course, there’s always tomorrow’s broccoli. Created with a mix of clipped photo-bits of food and utensils and figures cut from brown paper, the illustrations have a simple look that goes with the pared-down text, the perspectives and dramatic effect reminiscent of Mo Willems’s Pigeon books, but it doesn’t really capture the drama like Lauren Child’s I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato (2000). Still, it may help similarly picky children, and their caregivers, get over taking themselves too seriously. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59990-061-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2007

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