A funny, lighthearted story sure to appease everyone, animal lovers or not.

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WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOUR HOUSE IS A ZOO?

A school-age boy wants to get a pet but can’t decide what kind.

When Oscar finally gets permission from his parents to get a pet, he doesn’t know which one to get. He put out an advertisement and receives an avalanche of letters from a vast range of animals ranging from Goldie the goldfish to Walter the whale. The animals even start coming to Oscar’s house, but most of them are not interested in playing with Oscar. With Oscar’s house so full, the family must sleep in their backyard. A final prank by Space Monkey Boo-Boo causes Oscar’s mom to lose her temper and send all the animals away. When the family moves back into their house, Oscar discovers one missed letter from Rufus, a dog who promises to always love Oscar and be his best friend. Told in first person by Oscar, the story is simple but quite funny. It may be a tad on the complicated side for very young readers, and readers looking for an overt moral are unlikely to find one. Veteran Laberis’ digitally created illustrations are neat, displaying the expressions of the family and the animals exquisitely. Oscar is a brown-skinned, biracial boy, with a white dad and brown-skinned, black-haired mom.

A funny, lighthearted story sure to appease everyone, animal lovers or not. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-84869-949-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite.

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AFTER THE FALL (HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN)

Humpty Dumpty, classically portrayed as an egg, recounts what happened after he fell off the wall in Santat’s latest.

An avid ornithophile, Humpty had loved being atop a high wall to be close to the birds, but after his fall and reassembly by the king’s men, high places—even his lofted bed—become intolerable. As he puts it, “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Although fear bars Humpty from many of his passions, it is the birds he misses the most, and he painstakingly builds (after several papercut-punctuated attempts) a beautiful paper plane to fly among them. But when the plane lands on the very wall Humpty has so doggedly been avoiding, he faces the choice of continuing to follow his fear or to break free of it, which he does, going from cracked egg to powerful flight in a sequence of stunning spreads. Santat applies his considerable talent for intertwining visual and textual, whimsy and gravity to his consideration of trauma and the oft-overlooked importance of self-determined recovery. While this newest addition to Santat’s successes will inevitably (and deservedly) be lauded, younger readers may not notice the de-emphasis of an equally important part of recovery: that it is not compulsory—it is OK not to be OK.

A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-682-6

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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