These captivating llamas deliver. Readers won’t be bored by this board book! (Board book. 5-8)

LLAMAPHONES

What’s this we “See / Sea”? It’s a trendy llama, here to introduce witty pairs of homophones with humor, tactile elements, and a whole lotta flare—erm, flair.

How can a flat green silhouette of a llama be so darned hilarious? Drawn with distinctive perked ears, black dotted eyes, and rectangular body with rounded corners, face deadpan, it’s the very essence of llama. Llama’s hijinks graphically differentiate between the homophones, making them easy to define, such as silvery embossed hoof “prints” trailing behind it on one page and a regally clad “prince” on the other. Coat adds pizzazz as well as contextual clues through a surprising variety of touch-and-feel pieces, among them moving hands on an analog clock marking time on “wait” or a “peek”-aboo baby llama under a lift-the-flap blanket. If it sounds gimmicky, fear not; the book revels in hyperbole. Whether it’s a llama biting a pink “rose,” tango-style, or an emotionless “fairy” with textured, glittery wings, the contrast of flamboyant effects to solemn llamas is audaciously funny. There is a mismatch between format and concept here; homophones are abstract and better suited to older readers than the tot set. Still, there’s a scarcity of quality books about homophones, and the sophisticated humor should beguile big kids. Oversized trim also suits that older audience.

These captivating llamas deliver. Readers won’t be bored by this board book! (Board book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2827-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you

THE THANK YOU BOOK

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Piggie is “one lucky pig,” and she’s determined to make sure she thanks “everyone who is important to” her in this, the final Elephant & Piggie book.

Gerald is sure his friend will forget someone—“someone important”—but Piggie assures him, “It will be a THANK-O-RAMA!” Piggie proceeds to thank the Squirrels for their great ideas, Snake for playing ball, and the Pigeon “for never giving up.” Piggie thanks and thanks: “I am a thanking machine!” She thanks character after character, even the Flies (“Any time, dude!”), as Gerald continues to interject that she’ll forget “someone VERY important.” Finally Piggie runs out of thanks, and by this time Gerald is steamed. “I goofed,” Piggie says in itty-bitty type, before lavishing thanks on Gerald. But that’s not whom Piggie forgot to thank! A classic Willems tantrum later, Gerald reveals the “someone important”: “Our reader.” Of course. “We could not be ‘us’ without you,” says Gerald, earnestly looking out from the page, and Piggie chimes in, “You are the best!” As Elephant & Piggie books go, this isn’t one of the strongest, but it is a validating valediction to fans of the two characters, who have won Willems two Geisel Medals and five Honors. Yes, Gerald and Piggie have ushered countless readers into literacy, but as they rightly note, reading is a collaborative act.

Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you . (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7828-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

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A solo debut for Wenzel showcasing both technical chops and a philosophical bent.

Our Verdict

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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Caldecott Honor Book

THEY ALL SAW A CAT

Wouldn’t the same housecat look very different to a dog and a mouse, a bee and a flea, a fox, a goldfish, or a skunk?

The differences are certainly vast in Wenzel’s often melodramatic scenes. Benign and strokable beneath the hand of a light-skinned child (visible only from the waist down), the brindled cat is transformed to an ugly, skinny slinker in a suspicious dog’s view. In a fox’s eyes it looks like delectably chubby prey but looms, a terrifying monster, over a cowering mouse. It seems a field of colored dots to a bee; jagged vibrations to an earthworm; a hairy thicket to a flea. “Yes,” runs the terse commentary’s refrain, “they all saw the cat.” Words in italics and in capital letters in nearly every line give said commentary a deliberate cadence and pacing: “The cat walked through the world, / with its whiskers, ears, and paws… // and the fish saw A CAT.” Along with inviting more reflective viewers to ruminate about perception and subjectivity, the cat’s perambulations offer elemental visual delights in the art’s extreme and sudden shifts in color, texture, and mood from one page or page turn to the next.

A solo debut for Wenzel showcasing both technical chops and a philosophical bent. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5013-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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