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Lilting lines combine with endearing characters in an effervescent examination of fulfilled desires and kindness...

While moon gazing is surely a universal experience, not everyone sees the same thing.

As Kim explains in a note, her narrative is inspired by the Korean custom of searching the surface of a full moon for the silhouette of a rabbit using a mortar and pestle to make rice cakes. The story opens in a bedroom, where a raccoon is writing a message, folding the paper into an airplane, and sending it skyward. The view pans to other animals sending their wishes as well. The missives collect in the heavenly mortar, and as Rabbit stirs, the paper transforms into stars until “Wishes fill the sky with light… / …twinkling in the starry night.” Kim’s scenes are drawn in pencil and then digitally colored, and they have a softness around the edges, establishing a cozy mood that is sustained by the gentle rhymes. Dark backgrounds provide a foil for the starlight, and panels transition to luminous full bleeds, enhancing the magical effect. Kim diverges from tradition by showing that Rabbit has wishes too. In a buoyant, breezy sequence, the creature inflates a star, attaches a string, and floats to Earth to play with the animals. They ride bicycles, drift along in boats, and enjoy readings in the forest. When the lunar cycle is complete and the sky is dark, Rabbit must return home. Once there, however, an airborne delivery enables the long-distance friends to see one another and stay connected.

Lilting lines combine with endearing characters in an effervescent examination of fulfilled desires and kindness reciprocated. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-03639-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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