HALF A GIRAFFE?

Working together, these animal friends are good models for cooperative play.

A young giraffe longs for the best leaves, beyond her reach.

The bright yellow quadruped with brown crayon spots and a neck that’s perfect for sliding down is lucky enough to have many animal friends. In rhyming text and with the help of a wise tortoise, she learns that she can both push herself and lean on her friends to reach the tippy tops of the trees and eat those luscious leaves. Before she accomplishes her goal, the tortoise reminds Gisele of her special personal qualities: “What else do you have? Much more than your spots! / Kindness. And pluck. And a headful of thoughts.” Acknowledging that each animal has different physical traits, the tortoise continues the encouraging message: “You might not have whiskers or armor or wings, / but use what you’ve got; you don’t need those things.” The mixed-media illustrations, with their childlike depictions of animals in an imaginary African savanna scene, carry this book beyond its rhythmic but otherwise fairly pedestrian text. They are joyous, vivid, and funny, especially in one of the climactic spreads, when the animals, large and small, get together to form “a mountain of…animal stairs” for Gisele. Small children also want to accomplish tasks beyond their abilities with the assistance and encouragement of wise and patient grown-ups, and this story will resonate.

Working together, these animal friends are good models for cooperative play. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3144-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

THE HUGASAURUS

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily.

A group of young “dinosauruses” go out into the world on their own.

A fuchsia little Hugasaurus and her Pappysaur (both of whom resemble Triceratops) have never been apart before, but Hugasaurus happily heads off with lunchbox in hand and “wonder in her heart” to make new friends. The story has a first-day-of-school feeling, but Hugasaurus doesn’t end up in a formal school environment; rather, she finds herself on a playground with other little prehistoric creatures, though no teacher or adult seems to be around. At first, the new friends laugh and play. But Hugasaurus’ pals begin to squabble, and play comes to a halt. As she wonders what to do, a fuzzy platypus playmate asks some wise questions (“What…would your Pappy say to do? / What makes YOU feel better?”), and Hugasaurus decides to give everyone a hug—though she remembers to ask permission first. Slowly, good humor is restored and play begins anew with promises to be slow to anger and, in general, to help create a kinder world. Short rhyming verses occasionally use near rhyme but also include fun pairs like ripples and double-triples. Featuring cozy illustrations of brightly colored creatures, the tale sends a strong message about appropriate and inappropriate ways to resolve conflict, the final pages restating the lesson plainly in a refrain that could become a classroom motto. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Gently models kindness and respect—positive behavior that can be applied daily. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-82869-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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