RACCOON ON HIS OWN

A young raccoon goes for an unexpected solo trip through a swamp. More interested in climbing into an abandoned boat than in digging for crawfish with his mother and siblings, the youngster is nevertheless distressed when his family’s efforts dislodge the mud holding the boat, sending him downstream. Arnosky (Wild and Swampy, 2000, etc.) uses a watercolor palette dominated by swampy greens to create a lush, self-contained world in which the surface of the water blends imperceptibly into the general background. The raccoon’s trip takes him—and young readers—past a microcosm of swamp wildlife both malignant and benign, including snakes, an alligator, a family of mergansers, and a bevy of wading birds, as all the while the raccoon’s family paces his progress from the shore. The all-encompassing green and the characteristically quiet, present-tense text effectively recreate the muffled, otherworldly atmosphere of a swamp. At the end, a relieved raccoon is reunited with his family, none the worse for his adventure. The events that lead to raccoon’s voyage seem somewhat contrived and at times his expression is just a tiny bit too anthropomorphic, but these are only little quibbles with a story that will resonate with young children still exploring their own boundaries while at the same time introducing them painlessly to an environment likely as unfamiliar as the North Pole. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-22756-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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FROGGY GOES TO SCHOOL

Froggy's back (Froggy Learns to Swim, 1995, etc.) and on his first day of school, he wakes up late and goes to class in his underwear! No, that's only a dream—Froggy's parents wake him up just in time and they have breakfast together before leapfrogging to the bus stop. At school, Froggy gets a name tag, falls off his chair, and teaches the class—and the teacher—and the principal- -how to swim, an act that includes singing ``Bubble bubble, toot toot. Chicken, airplane, soldier.'' When his parents pick him up at the bus stop at the end of the day, they discover that he has forgotten his lunch box in school. `` `Oh, Froggy. Will you ever learn?' said his mother. `That's why I'm going to school, Mom!' '' The accessible writing has plenty of gratifying opportunities for funny sounds when read out loud, and is also endearingly wry: ``He liked his name. It was the first word he knew how to read. It was the only word he knew how to read.'' Remkiewicz's bright watercolors feature punchy, bouncy, bug-eyed animals wearing emphatically exaggerated expressions: This bunch is easy to love. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-670-86726-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1996

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THE POUT-POUT FISH

The pout-pout fish, painted a suitable blue, is so named for his perpetual gloom: “I’m a pout-pout fish / With a pout-pout face, / So I spread the dreary-wearies / All over the place.” When a jellyfish complains about his “daily scaly scowl,” the glum fish agrees, but says his mood isn’t up to him. A squid, dubbing the fish “a kaleidoscope of mope,” receives the same defeatist answer, as do other sea creatures. Up to this point, the story is refreshing in that readers will no doubt recognize the pout-pout fish in their own lives, and in many cases, there’s just no cheering these people up. But the plot takes a rather unpalatable turn when a shimmery girl fish kisses the gloomster right on his pouty mouth. With that kiss, he transforms into the “kiss-kiss fish” and swims around “spreading cheery-cheeries all over the place,” meaning that he starts to smooch every creature in sight. (Don’t try this at school, kids, you’ll get suspended!) Still, there’s plenty of charm here, both in the playful language (“hulky-bulky sulking!”) and in the winning artwork—Hanna’s cartoonish undersea world swims with hilarious bug-eyed creatures that ooze personality. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-374-36096-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2008

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