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A CAT NAMED TIM AND OTHER STORIES

Visual learners and younger children alike will pore delightedly over these nearly wordless sequences.

Four whimsical cartoon outings feature an overlapping cast of small anthropomorphic animals artfully placed to lead eyes up, down, around and past page turns to mishaps and surprises.

Doug (a duck) and Mouse, plainly a pair of adrenalin junkies, open with a looping airplane flight, go on to pose in 24 adventuresome settings laid out on a single spread, then take a boat ride that ends up under water. The titular cat joins the intrepid travelers for an underground pizza party, steps out himself to try on 32 different occupational outfits—again on a single spread—and goes on to a series of amusing experiments in a chemistry lab and elsewhere. In the third episode, rabbit-eared Connie spends a day in a Rube Goldberg–ian mechanical house, attends a birthday party and enjoys a spaghetti dinner at a trattoria—before an extra-long strand leads to an extremely long slurp. In the final chapter, elderly Mr. and Mrs. Hamhock wait at the bus stop through night and day and through seasons, a vignette clearly inspired by Waiting for Godot. Both the sight gags and the characters’ comical responses are easy to track in Martz’s flat, minimally detailed, graphic-style art.

Visual learners and younger children alike will pore delightedly over these nearly wordless sequences. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927668-10-8

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Koyama Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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PLANET KINDERGARTEN

Sure to assuage the fears of all astronauts bound for similar missions.

A genius way to ease kids into the new adventure that is kindergarten.

In an imaginative ruse that’s maintained through the whole book, a young astronaut prepares for his mission to Planet Kindergarten. On liftoff day (a space shuttle–themed calendar counts down the days; a stopwatch, the minutes), the small family boards their rocket ship (depicted in the illustrations as the family car), and “the boosters fire.” They orbit base camp while looking for a docking place. “I am assigned to my commander, capsule, and crewmates.” Though he’s afraid, he stands tall and is brave (not just once, either—the escape hatch beckons, but NASA’s saying gets him through: “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION”). Parents will certainly chuckle along with this one, but kindergarten teachers’ stomach muscles will ache: “[G]ravity works differently here. We have to try hard to stay in our seats. And our hands go up a lot.” Prigmore’s digital illustrations are the perfect complement to the tongue-in-cheek text. Bold colors, sharp lines and a retro-space style play up the theme. The intrepid explorer’s crewmates are a motley assortment of “aliens”—among them are a kid in a hoodie with the laces pulled so tight that only a nose and mouth are visible; a plump kid with a bluish cast to his skin; and a pinkish girl with a toothpick-thin neck and huge bug eyes.

Sure to assuage the fears of all astronauts bound for similar missions. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1893-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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THE HUG

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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