Delightful and sweet, with a dose of whimsy and the special appeal of fast cars and competition.

READ REVIEW

MAMA LION WINS THE RACE

In this departure for Muth from his Zen books about Stillwater the panda, several stuffed animals speed across a glorious European countryside in classic race cars—and on one impressive motorcycle—and, with some strategic help from Mama Lion, everyone wins.

The race begins in a town square with gathered crowds, mostly stuffed toys with cameo appearances by Clifford the Big Red Dog and Mo Willems’ ambitious Pigeon. “The world is beautiful,” thinks Mama Lion as Tigey drives their red car zooming over green, poplar-studded hills. “The world is friendly.” Muth’s colors in gouache and watercolor pencil richly convey the blue sky of summer, the sleek vehicles with their shiny chrome accents, and the individual characters in the ensemble of stuffed toys. There’s a charming, playful nod to “The Tortoise and the Hare” and some comical antics by a trio of Knitted Monkeys. When Tigey and Mama Lion lose a wheel in a sudden stop, the rotund Flying Pandini brother and sister come to their aid—but the race is still close. The joy of speed, the excitement of obstacles, the reassurance of friendship and assistance, and the satisfaction of having the race turn out just the right way are nicely in proportion. The generous trim size and edge-to-edge art support the exuberant presentation.

Delightful and sweet, with a dose of whimsy and the special appeal of fast cars and competition. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-85282-1

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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