Better than a bottle of glitter soda.

WHY CAN'T WE BE BESTIE-CORNS?

From the Kevin the Unicorn series

Unicorns Kevin and Eric decide not to be B(U)FFs.

In this worthy follow-up to the excellent It’s Not All Rainbows (2019), Kevin is excited when he finds out that a new unicorn is moving in next door. Kevin is a “magical friend-making machine,” and he just knows that this unicorn will be a perfect best friend. Kevin imagines all kinds of adventures with his new bestie, with a featureless cardboard-corn standing in for a real unicorn, and when Eric meets Kevin, he’s equally enthusiastic about immediately cementing their bond. But tension arises when Kevin finds out that Eric prefers clam juice to glitter soda and when Eric discovers that his new “BEST best friend” doesn’t like camping. After a few other attempts, the two unicorns realize that not everyone is destined to be best friends, so “instead of trying to force a friendship, Eric and Kevin decided just to be friendly.” As its predecessor did, this chipper story uses bright, goofy, cotton-candy–toned art with tons of kid appeal to get to a complex, important, and too-little-seen message. It’s slightly misleading to suggest that emotional connections need to rely on shared activities, but for children struggling to figure out how to appropriately navigate relationships—or kids who just want a fun story with raucous pictures—this will be a hit. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 19% of actual size.)

Better than a bottle of glitter soda. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984814-80-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Sweet, good-hearted fun.

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THE SOUR GRAPE

From the Food Group series

A recovering curmudgeon narrates life lessons in the latest entry in the punny Food Group series.

Grape wasn’t always sour, as they explain in this origin story. Grape’s arc starts with an idyllic childhood within “a close-knit bunch” in a community of “about three thousand.” The sweet-to-sour switch begins when Grape plans an elaborate birthday party to which no one shows up. Going from “sweet” to “bitter,” “snappy,” and, finally, “sour,” Grape “scowled so much that my face got all squishy.” Minor grudges become major. An aha moment occurs when a run of bad luck makes Grape three hours late for a meetup with best friend Lenny, who’s just as acidic as Grape. After the irate lemon storms off, Grape recognizes their own behavior in Lenny. Alone, Grape begins to enjoy the charms of a lovely evening. Once home, the fruit browses through a box of memorabilia, discovering that the old birthday party invitation provided the wrong date! “I realized nobody’s perfect. Not even me.” Remaining pages reverse the downturn as Grape observes that minor setbacks are easily weathered when the emphasis is on talking, listening, and working things out. Oswald’s signature illustrations depict Grape and company with big eyes and tiny limbs. The best sight gag occurs early: Grape’s grandparents are depicted as elegant raisins. The lessons are as valuable as in previous outings, and kids won’t mind the slight preachiness. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, good-hearted fun. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-304541-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best.

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THE SMART COOKIE

From the Food Group series

This smart cookie wasn’t alwaysa smart cookie.

At the corner of Sweet Street stands a bakery, which a whole range of buns and cakes and treats calls home, including a small cookie who “didn’t feel comfortable speaking up or sharing” any ideas once upon a time. During the early days of gingerbread school, this cookie (with sprinkles on its top half, above its wide eyes and tiny, smiling mouth) never got the best grades, didn’t raise a hand to answer questions, and almost always finished most tests last, despite all best efforts. As a result, the cookie would worry away the nights inside of a cookie jar. Then one day, kind Ms. Biscotti assigns some homework that asks everyone “to create something completely original.” What to do? The cookie’s first attempts (baking, building a birdhouse, sculpting) fail, but an idea strikes soon enough. “A poem!” Titling its opus “My Crumby Days,” the budding cookie poet writes and writes until done. “AHA!” When the time arrives to share the poem with the class, this cookie learns that there’s more than one way to be smart. John and Oswald’s latest installment in the hilarious Food Group series continues to provide plenty of belly laughs (thanks to puns galore!) and mini buns of wisdom in a wholly effervescent package. Oswald’s artwork retains its playful, colorful creative streak. Although slightly less effective than its predecessors due to its rather broad message, this one’s nonetheless an excellent addition to the menu.(This book was reviewed digitally.)

A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304540-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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