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

A CAT NAMED TIM AND OTHER STORIES

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. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

THE 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. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A brassy, assertive fellow—young readers in the middle of their own power struggles will relate.

TOUGH TUG

A tugboat’s size and might are easy to anthropomorphize; add this personified puffer to the mix.

Tough Tug is built near Seattle, made of strong steel welded together and adorned with a fresh coat of bright red paint. Wide googly eyes and a determined smile complete the look. On launch day, Tough Tug triumphantly flashes forward and backward, twirling and swirling through the water. Older tugboats (distinguished variously by mustaches, glasses, and eye patches) grumble at the youngster’s bravado. “Push and pull is what tugs do. Practice THAT.” Tough Tug’s first job is to tow a barge to Alaska. Rhythmic mantras churn across the surface of the water in bold navy letters: “Ready, steady. / Steady, ready. // Chug and tug. / Tug and chug.” But Tough Tug is overeager and challenges Arctic Tug to a race. The thrum changes to “Race and run! / Run and race!” Arctic Tug is first to Sitka, but while crossing the open ocean to Anchorage, the older tug gets into trouble. It’s Tough Tug to the rescue! McClurkan’s digital paintings look quite modern, but there is a feel to his foamy waves that recalls the mid-20th-century harbor of Little Toot. The anthropomorphized boats have plenty of personality, and readers who study the expressions on the container ships will be rewarded. An author’s note explains this was inspired by a true story of one tug rescuing another boat from a competing tugboat company.

A brassy, assertive fellow—young readers in the middle of their own power struggles will relate. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5039-5098-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more