A quiet, thoughtful narrative for all readers who like to wonder.

FRIEND OR FOE?

A lonely mouse is determined to find out if the neighboring cat might be a new friend.

A little gray mouse lives in a small house, and in the palace next door lives a white cat. Every evening, the two neighbors watch each other—the mouse from his roof, the cat from her high window. When the mouse discovers a hole in the palace wall, he decides to see if the hours spent in mutual contemplation mean that he and the cat are friends. As the mouse makes his way up, he becomes nervous: “What if he was wrong? If he was, the cat would tear him to pieces.” Curiosity outweighs fear, however, and the mouse creeps up to the cat in her window, finally asking, “are you friend or foe?” In response, the cat, startled by the mouse’s sudden appearance, leaps in surprise and tumbles spectacularly out of the window to land safely (as cats do) just outside the mouse’s house—and having unexpectedly switched places, the two neighbors take up their nightly watch again. Tolstikova’s muted palette, neutrals disrupted only by the bright red palace wall, is well-suited to Sobol’s measured prose, which denies readers a satisfying conclusion in favor of allowing them to decide for themselves if cat and mouse are indeed friends.

A quiet, thoughtful narrative for all readers who like to wonder. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55498-407-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Daddy-and-child dog lovers can try some of these canine ways of expressing affection.

DADDIES ARE AWESOME

Puppies celebrate the many ways their dads are awesome.

“Daddies are playful. / They swing you around. // You ride on their shoulders / or hang upside down.” The first spread pictures a scruffy pup, mouth clamped on its dad’s tail, hanging. The second features a long dachshund, his four pups using the large expanse of his back as a jungle gym or resting spot. The husky dad is labeled as daring, brave, and strong, while the hound takes his pup on adventures (digging and hiding under a bush). Other dog dads give kisses and tickles, tell bedtime stories and help count sheep (a stuffed toy), and help their pups grow (challenging them with stairs and carrying them when the going gets tough). Lovšin creatively interprets some of the text that applies well to kids but not so well to canines: dad and pup at each end of a long stick held in their mouths is the dog equivalent of holding hands. Though many dog breeds will be familiar, some are just mutts, though all are shown caring for and enjoying the company of their offspring. White backgrounds keep the focus on the dogs.

Daddy-and-child dog lovers can try some of these canine ways of expressing affection. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-452-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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